Shows F

gardening (don’t over-water). He orders Matt to go inside the house. Luisa’s father, Mr. Bellomy, arrives and gives a contrasting philosophy of life and gardening (plenty of water). He orders Luisa inside. He then calls to Hucklebee, and the two old friends boast about their cleverness in pretending to feud as a means to ensure that their children fall in love. They note that to manipulate children you need merely to say “no” (“Never Say No”). Hucklebee tells Bellomy of his plan to end the feud by having Luisa “kidnapped” by a professional abductor so that Matt can “rescue” her and appear heroic. The hired professional, El Gallo, appears and offers the fathers a menu of different varieties of “rape” – in the literary sense of an abduction or kidnapping – that he can simulate (“It Depends on What You Pay”). Deciding to spare no expense for their beloved children (within reason), the fathers agree to a “first class” abduction scene. A disheveled old actor with a failing memory, Henry Albertson, arrives with his sidekick, Mortimer, a Cockney dressed as an American Indian. El Gallo engages them to help with the staged kidnapping. Matt and Luisa return to speak of their love and hint at physical intimacy (“Soon It’s Gonna Rain”). El Gallo and the actors burst in and carry out the moonlit abduction scenario; Matt “defeats” the three (“Rape Ballet”). The feud is ended and the wall between the houses torn down, with the children and the fathers joined in a picturesque final tableau (“Happy Ending”). El Gallo collects the stage properties used in the “abduction” and wonders aloud how long the lovers and their fathers will be able to maintain their elaborately joyful poses. He and The Mute leave. Act II The children and fathers are discovered in the same poses but are visibly exhausted by the effort. El Gallo observes that what seemed romantic by moonlight may lose its charm when exposed to the harsh light of day. He exchanges his moon for a blazing sun. The fathers and lovers begin to complain about one another, noticing all the flaws that have become glaringly visible by daylight (“This Plum Is Too Ripe”). The children try to recreate their romantic mood from the previous night and mock their fathers. Eventually, in a fit of pique, Hucklebee reveals that the kidnapping and the feud were fake. Matt and Luisa are mortified, and the fathers’ mutual recrimination quickly escalates into a real feud; they storm off to their respective houses. Matt sees El Gallo and, in a desperate attempt to regain his honor and Luisa’s love, challenges him to a duel. El Gallo easily disarms Matt and leaves him embarrassed. Matt and Luisa then argue; she calls him a poseur, while he calls her childish. Matt is eager to leave the provincial town. He and El Gallo discuss his gleaming vision of adventure (“I Can See It”). Henry and Mortimer return and lead Matt off to see the world. A month passes, and the fathers have rebuilt the wall. They meet and speak sadly of their children; Luisa is like a statue and does nothing but sit and dream; Matt still hasn’t returned. They then sing about the uncertainties of raising children, as compared with the reliability of vegetable gardening (“Plant a Radish”). Luisa sees El Gallo watching her and is intrigued by the handsome, experienced bandit. Impulsively, she asks him to take her away to see the world. In a long fantasy sequence, they preview a series of romantic adventures through a mask of unreality, while in the background Matt is being abused and beaten by Henry and Mortimer portraying a series of unpleasant exotic employers. Luisa’s fantasies become increasingly frenzied, exhausting and darkly underscored (“Round and Round”). El Gallo tells Luisa to pack her things for the journey, but before she goes inside to do so, he asks her to give him her treasured necklace, a relic of her dead mother, as a pledge that she will return. As she goes inside, El Gallo promises her a world of beauty and grandeur; at the same time, Matt approaches, giving a contrasting version of the cruel experiences that one can suffer (“I Can See It” (reprise)). As Luisa disappears, El Gallo turns to leave, the injured Matt makes a pitiful attempt to stop him from hurting Luisa, but El Gallo knocks him away and disappears. Luisa returns to find that El Gallo has left with her necklace, and she sits in tears. El Gallo, as the narrator, explains poetically that he had to hurt Matt and Luisa, and also himself in the process. Matt comforts Luisa, and he tells her a little about his experiences, and the two realize that everything they wanted was each other (“They Were You”; “Metaphor” (reprise)), but that they now understand that more deeply. The Fathers return joyfully and are about to tear down the wall, when El Gallo reminds them that the wall must always remain (“Try to Remember” (reprise)).