Setting: The English Channel, between Paris and London, at the start of the French Revolution, Saturday around 5:30.
The Americans, having finished their own revolution and a light supper, sail for Paris and the French Revolution, while the French sip lattes at the Café Rue de Les Misérables (“a miserable street deli”).
Doctor Victor Hugo Hackenbush is released from his front row Paris prison theater seat after 17 years of repairing shoes as a hobby. He is deranged and wonders how he will get back to London to start his new life. But while in the care of his servant Ernest “Borgnine” Defarge (“of the farges”) and his wife Madame “Large Bosoms” Defarge, Hackenbush is reunited with his fetching daughter, Lucy, who fetches him to England.
On their voyage to London, Lucy and Hackenbush befriend the nephew of the French Marquis Jean (“Bastille Day”) Valjean. The nephew, Charles (“lite”) Mayonnaise, who renounced his inheritance, was banished from France by the Marquis who with the help of his spy, John “Threeleg” Barstool, secrets in Mayonnaise’s pants a false letter accusing him of spying on England. Unbeknownstingly of this plot, Mayonnaise falls in love with Lucy, who, not knowing about the letter, simply thought he was happy to see her.
Later in London, while Lucy is sleeping, the implicating treasonous letter is found by a whore in Mayonnaise’s pants. The letter was also in there. Constables throw Mayonnaise in jail.
Mayonnaise is tried as an English traitor. He is then rescued by a drunken but brilliant lawyer, Sydney Carte Blanche, an oddly Frenchy name for an Englishman. Sydney falls in love with Lucy too, but she doesn’t give him Carte Blanche as with Mayonnaise. Everyone lets the senile Dr. Hackenbush decide who loves Lucy, and he chooses the real Frenchman, Lite Mayonnaise, not knowing that Mayonnaise is the nephew of the despised Marquis. Soon Mayonnaise and Lucy have a daughter, Little Lucy. Carte Blanche continues to love both Lucys while remaining drunken and lawyerly.
Back in France the evil Marquis, sensing things are going awry, rides into Paris in a carriage pulled by a horse that runs over the street urchin Oliver Twist, who was a real little dickens, but not a very artful dodger. Paralyzed by the horse in one leg (left front), Oliver rides on the shoulders of his uncle Ebenezer Scrooge, while the horse manages to get by with a limp and eye patch.
Then the Marquis is murdered just as the Americans arrive in Paris for the Revolution. Mayonnaise decides to go back to Paris to investigate, and he is promptly arrested in Paris and charged by the mob as the former big-shot nephew who fled France. He is thrown into La Force (“the force”) Prison where he is forced (LOL) to watch “I Love Lucy” reruns.
Hearing of the impending trial, the Lucy’s, Dr. Hackenbush and their friends, the Mertzes, use their frequent carriage miles to travel back to Paris. Speaking at the trial in defense of his son-in-law Mayonnaise, the Doctor wins Mayonnaise’s freedom.
At the party celebrating Mayonnaise’s acquittal, Madame Defarge produces a letter from her bosoms that Hackenbush had written years ago in the Bastille Theater. It explains why he was imprisoned and ends with a curse on the Marquis, his descendents and their horses: years earlier Hackenbush went to the Marquis’ country estate to treat a horse. In a rage, the Marquis’ brother shot the horse, not realizing that horse’s descendent would later trample Oliver Twist, the brother of Madame Defarge! Thoroughly confused about whom they should support, the partiers change sides and denounced Mayonnaise on the advice of the letter written by Defarge’s bosoms.
The Finale: Carte Blanche, willingly taking the place of Mayonnaise, is transferred to prison by guards who think he is the newly-accused Mayonnaise. At the last minute, the real Mayonnaise (har!), Hackenbush and the Lucy’s escape to London in a submersible carriage, while the innocent Oliver agrees to stand-in for the person who everyone thinks is the real Mayonnaise (but who really is Carte Blanche)! Sydney slips out the back and later stars as Captain Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music”.
The play ends when Oliver, lured by a Christmas pudding, ascends to the guillotine proclaiming, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, and God bless us, every one”. The curtain falls on the neck of the Marquis’ horse, which spends the rest of its life in a wheelchair.
*Another edition in the irritating series “Play Synopses for Modern Readers Ignorant of the Classics”. You may also enjoy “Rigoletto Comes to Utah” by the same author.