Fastlane - a musical about love,determinism and the soul trade
"You are nothing but a room full of causes and effects!" Morris Phist, a.k.a. the Devil, berates the audience in the prologue for being stuck-in-time creatures. He waxes eloquently about the inexorable beauty of time. "If not for the passing of time, how could we get around to the finer things in life like death?" [Time Passing]
Phist introduces us to the protagonist and his next client, James Weeklow. James' life is abysmally dull and unrewarding. He is an embarrassment to his parents, reviled by his ex-wife, tormented by his neighbours and expendable to his boss. He snaps and in a panic runs to the Stickland Bridge and climbs to the top of one of the arches. James contemplates suicide but typically is unable to make any kind of definitive decision. [None of the Above]
Enter Freddy Shilton, a rock musician, on the path to self-destruction and rapidly closing in on his destination. From his vantage point, James witnesses Freddy's crisis. Phist appears and gives James the offer of a lifetime: save Freddy by taking over his life; leave his own dismal existence behind; and make no payments for [2 ½ Billion Heartbeats]. James has to make a decision. Freddy's time has all but run out. James takes the deal.
James - now Freddy Shilton - has inherited a band managed by Phist. He has also inherited a girlfriend, Peggy, who feels alienated from this new Freddy. [Stranger that I Love] Freddy's life also came with a lot of hidden baggage.
Fastlane, Freddy's band had been in a tailspin. Now with his renewed energy, Freddy works the band relentlessly to deliver its best [Knife-Edge]. Freddy is fast becoming a celebrity and enjoys the attention from fans and media. Against Phist's advice, he grants an interview to Gretchen Wilder, a reporter well known for her unflattering portraits of the rich and famous. The interview touches upon the many inconsistencies in Freddy's life that Gretchen has unearthed. She wants to know what happened at the Stickland Bridge that caused Freddy to turn his life around so dramatically. Phist cuts the interview short, but it is obvious that the two have connected.
After the article is published,
Freddy calls Gretchen. There follows a series of messages, conversations
and meetings [Romance Pt. 1-5],
at the end of which, their love blossoms [Soul
It's the morning after a wonderful night and Freddy has gone off to pick up something special for breakfast. Gretchen's spirit is sailing [Cloud Nine and Seventh Heaven*] until a surprise visit from Peggy knocks the wind out of her sails. Peggy read Gretchen's newspaper column about Freddy and wanted to set the record straight: Under the surface, the real Freddy is violent and abusive. She shows Gretchen police photos documenting one of the times that Freddy beat her. When Gretchen later confronts Freddy about this, he can't confirm or deny what happened with Peggy and his confusing and evasive answers only make things worse. They separate. [Gone for Good]
Freddy begins to deteriorate. He is depressed, irritable, frequently drunk and has started cancelling shows [Slightly Fatal Bliss]. Phist, on the other hand, is delighted with the series of events; in fact, it is turning out exactly as he knew it would. For Phist, the whole story is a fait de complet. He knows what's going to happen because - for him - it already has happened.
Gretchen continues to wrestle with her emotions. She calls Freddy and leaves a message on his phone. She had his handwriting analysed and his current handwriting doesn't match an earlier sample. "I don't know who the hell you are or what this is all about, but somehow I still care for you. Please call." Phist erases the message.
Freddy is close to rock bottom when Phist casually informs him that a fatal accident is about to happen on the Stickland Bridge. "It's in all of the papers - tomorrow's papers, that is. The story is all about a vehicle driven by a drunk driver hurtling toward one Gretchen Wilder." Freddy races to the bridge in time to push Gretchen out of the way of an oncoming car, only to be struck himself. Phist collects his client calmly against a backdrop of flashing lights, sirens and tragedy.
Sometime later when Gretchen is slowing coming out of her depression [Grieving], she visits the bridge. She hears Phist approaching and hides. Phist, who is ushering another client to the underworld, leaves the portal ajar to lure Gretchen to follow. She descends to the land of the Dusteaters where she rapidly ages and disappears into a gloomy sea of undulating forms. [Dusteaters]. After Phist returns to the surface, a low-level celestial bureaucrat named Michael discovers her lifeless form.
Phist is busy auditioning some singularly untalented musicians to replace Freddy. He is uncharacteristically taken aback when James and Michael arrive. Michael informs Phist that in an unprecedented decision, the Committee for the Highest Authority, who almost never make decisions, have overruled Phist and changed 'what happens next'. Phist's company Fastlane Productions has been the subject of a hostile takeover by SAM (Straight Arrow Music), Phist has accepted a senior position in a prominent legal firm and the contract with James has been declared null and void. The final blow for Phist is to learn that Fastlane becomes a successful gospel band with a tremendous following in the bible belt. Phist erupts and exits in a cloud of smoke.
Michael takes James back in time and leaves him on the bridge [All of the Above]. Of course he has no memory of what hasn't happened, but he feels unaccountably ecstatic and free. Not surprisingly, he simply has to dance. At the climax of his dance [I'm Alive!], he loses his grip on a loose pillar and falls off the bridge into the river below. Moments later, Gretchen arrives. When the soaked James staggers back on to the bridge, he doesn't recognize her but is euphoric that she is there. Gretchen is not so sure about this delirious stranger who claims he fell off the bridge while dancing. She calls for help on her cell phone. Eventually an ambulance arrives [Where I Began] and, before he is taken away, James is able to elicit a "perhaps" from Gretchen when he asks if they could meet again. The onlookers disperse and Gretchen exits. [Go Home Singing]
Carbonate Street ~ NELSON BC V1L 4R6 CANADA
Copyright © 2000-2002 Doug Jamieson