“The Man Who Was Thursday: A Musical”: A Synopsis - Act I Scene 2

Syme leaves the house and walks several blocks lost in thought when a voice calls him from the shadows. Syme challenges the figure, who turns out to be Gregory, who has confesses that he must speak with Syme privately. Gregory asks Syme if he still questions Gregory's commitment to his ideals. Syme is still on guard, suspecting retribution for having pointed out Gregory's weak arguments. But Gregory swears he means no harm, will in fact buy him dinner. But only at one particular restaurant.

Gregory promises Syme a “very entertaining evening” in exchange for Syme's sworn secrecy. Syme agrees readily, saying that rarely does a dream have such good food and company as this one. Gregory answers with “You Are Not Asleep”.

As the song begins and progresses, the restaurant booth disappears as the pair are whisked downwards (backwards?) into the secret layer of the New Anarchists. As Syme languidly smokes and peruses the racks of pistols, bombs, machetes, and other tools of disorder, Gregory reveals that not only does he firmly believe the anarchic philosophies he propounds “in the world above”, he and his group have sworn to not only overthrow the government of Man, but to also abolish God and destroy both Right and Wrong. It is here that Gregory, almost boasting, describes the Anarchist High Council, each named after a day of the week, led by a man known only as Sunday; the purpose of this chapter meeting about to start is to elect him (Gregory) succesor to the office of Thursday. Upon questioning, he confesses that the only place for an anarchist to hide these days is in plain sight, hence his “salon performance”. He delights that he has found a receptive audience for his “true reveal”, but reminds Syme of his promise of secrecy.

Scene 2b

There is a lull in the music as Syme cogitates, ever smiling (almost smirking). Syme bursts out that this is the funniest situation he has ever been in. In recitative, he asks Gregory for a promise of silence of his own. Gregory, still drunk on the power of his great revelation, accepts. Syme then relates how a man in a pitch black room offered him the chance to “redeem the sins committed against society”. In answer to Gregory's questioning look, Syme relates that the man in the dark room gave him a “small blue card”, inscribed with the legend “The Last Crusade”. The bottom line, Syme reveals, is that he is a policeman sworn to destroy the anarchist conspiracy with the power of his poetical philosophy.

Gregory is stunned. He grabs a nearby pistol and points it at Syme. Syme is quick to reiterate his promise not to reveal Gregory secret, and Gregory's corresponding oath. He notes they have checkmated each other, and surely Gregory does not believe Syme to escape the inquisitions of his fellow anarchists, who are due any moment... The two sing a duet about their ironical situation as the rest of the Anarchist Council fills the seats.

The chairman calls the meeting to order, and announces he is accepting nominations for the office of Thursday. One man nominates Gregory, quickly seconded. Gregory has not yet quite regained his footing, but he accepts with glorious humility. Gregory is allowed to make a statement before the matter is called to a vote.

Gregory sings a solemn chorale about his intention to show the outside world that the anarchist way of life is respectable and noble, so that they need no longer hide their views from the world, but rather spread them far and wide. Gregory's words are well chosen but his meaning falls flat: the anarchists must show themselves to be “poor, misunderstood, well-meaning philosophers”, intent on changing society through argument and example. His speech clashes wildly with the racks of weapons around the room, and there is only mild enthusiasm from the anarchists.

The chairman asks “Does anyone oppose the election of Comrade Gregory?” After very little pause at all, Syme, who had blended in with the crowd, steps forward and states boldly “Yes, Mr. Chairman, I oppose.” Into the shocked silence, Syme sings in angry indignation at Comrade Gregory's mildness and tameness.

Talk Like This
Comrades! Have we come in her for this??
Do we fight underground like rats just to listen to talk like this??
We line the walls with fire
And we bar the door with death
Just to hear dear Comrade Gregory say “Do unto others...” and “Honesty is best” ??

This is talk best fit for Sunday School
Or a village priest on holiday
I cast aside your Golden Rule
And those who say they're honest, we'll make them pay!

Gregory, through gritted teeth, responds, hoping to simultaneously save face and remind Syme of his precarious position.

I think you miss my point, “Comrade”
You argue out of joint, “Comrade”
Do not presume my aims, “Comrade”
Or I shall do the same.... “Comrade”
[the song continues]

Syme whips the meeting into a frenzy with his song, and amidst Gregory's vague and fearful protests, Syme is elected to the office of Thursday. The chanting crowd carries Syme off, as Syme and Gregory share a hard look, Syme's burning and triumphant, Gregory's blackly fierce.

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