Race the Devil (1994)

Project Summary

Race the Devil was created during a month’s series of workshops with clients of the Probation Service. The libretto was written by Stephen Plaice, who based the story on the ‘legend’ of Micky Miles, a smuggler from Sussex who shared many characteristics with the Robin hood figure. Participants composed songs for the show based on this libretto under the guidance of composer Adrian Johnston.

In the following year the production was revived for the 1995 Arundel Festival. Participants were drawn from Littlehampton Community School and new material was created over the two and a half week rehearsal period.

Synopsis

The smugglers wait at the camp in the forest for the arrival of their leader, Micky Miles, with their parcel. Meanwhile Hazel, a teenage runaway, is lost in the forest. She is pregnant by a fairground boy and is too afraid to return home. As she gathers nuts, she encounters The Devil, disguised as a squirrel. He gives her magic mushrooms which put her in his thrall. He promises to help her get rid of the baby.

Mad Dog, the ghost of Hell’s Angel, appears and tells of how he lost his head.

The Customs and Excise Men arrive in the woods and begin their search for the smugglers. However, they rarely arrest anyone before they’ve had their lunch.

Micky has lost all the smugglers’ money in the deal in Amsterdam. Hazel offers to help him, saying she knows a dealer who will supply them. Micky agrees to take her to the camp. She blazes a trail of nutshells for the Devil to follow. Following the trail, the Devil bumps into Mad Dog. Quickly the two realise that they don’t like each other at all.

Micky and Hazel arrive at the camp to break the bad news, only for the Devil to turn up, having followed the nutshells. He offers seven thousand D’s, a new designer drug, to the smugglers. Micky takes one, causing a dragon to appear, which he manages to ride. Just as the smugglers are about to celebrate, the Customs and Excise men burst out and arrest everyone except Micky and Hazel, who manage to escape. The Devil is in league with the Excise men.

Having escaped, Micky falls asleep. Hazel, still awake, sings her love for him, yet cannot be with him because of the baby she’s expecting. Mad Dog appears to her out of the Moon. She reminds him of Peggy, the girl who rode behind him the night he lost his head. Peggy was Hazel’s mother and was pregnant with Mad Dog’s child when he crashed. Mad Dog says he will help Micky get the Devil off his back. They must race at dawn over a mile.

The Devil is rehearsing with his rock band, The Hounds of Hell. He accepts Micky’s challenge, but says if he wis, he will have Hazel’s soul too, and the baby.

On the day of the race Hazel reveals to Micky that she is pregnant by another boy. He takes an overdose and runs into the forest. The Chapter of Angels descend from the White Light and restore him to life, as he is not ready to join them. He must race the Devil.

Micky arrives late at the race, giving the Devil a head start. However, he catches up with him and manages to win the race. The Devil says he will never have Micky in hell. God appears in the crown Sun Oak and says he cannot have icky in heaven either because of his criminal past. However, the Chapter of Angels decides Micky will ride with them when he dies. They bring Hazel in leathers. Micky vows to love her and the coming child. The Angels perform their wedding in the forest.

Roles

Micky Miles
Hazel
The Devil
Mad Dog
Abyssinia
Angels’ Chaplain

Chorus of Smugglers/Angels
Customs and Excise Chorus
The Dervs

Creative Team

Librettist Stephen Plaice
Director Stephen Langridge
Designer Helena Roden