"I Don't Believe in Fairies"
from The Faery Parasol

The tune is George Bicknell's "You Naughty, Naughty Men" quickstep, from the popular 1850's musical show, "The Black Crook." (The same meter exactly fits "The Song of Tom O'Bedlam," a famous late-medieval lament about imagination and madness.)

In reality, Sir Arthur Sullivan died some four years before Sir James Barrie's publication of Peter Pan and The Admirable Crichton, and, in fact, had retired from composing almost a decade before. Still, what is a little anachronism between friends, especially if it leads to some really ghastly puns?

The Faery Parasol is a "might-have-been" Gilbert-and-Sullivan operetta, imagined by Allison Lonsdale, with whose kind permission the following has been essayed.

"I Don't Believe in Fairies (Yes He Does)"
A Patter Song from Gilbert and Sullivan's
The Faery Parasol . . . or perhaps not.

Chorus' lead Soprano
Bass Solo: The Surveyor
James: the Surveyor's assistant: a non-speaking role.

Stage directions: a thick, dark forest. Occasional little pricks of light appear and vanish. These are electric lights, either tiny bulbs fitting in the trees, or else pinholes in the backdrop through which light can shine. As the song progresses, more and more lights appear, moving in erratic patterns. Yet, whichever way the Surveyor is facing, the lights are darkened, so that he only sees the trees. The same is true, to a lesser degree, for James, who keeps catching glimpses, but is unable to communicate what he sees to the Surveyor. At the end of the song, the Lead Soprano almost, but not quite, steps out of the forest to reveal herself to the Surveyor. The Surveyor trembles and puts his hand to his brow...but when the Lead Soprano retreats once more, his heartiness returns. Then, with a bit of a shock, he takes off his hat and "drops the mask," speaking directly to the audience, not in character, but as an actor. And the end of the song -- if the audience is kind enough to favor it with applause -- this will bring the fairy-lights fully up, brighter and brighter, so that even the Surveyor -- no, not he, but, instead, the singer and actor who plays the part -- can clearly see them. He smiles. But when he puts back on his hat, of course, the stage goes dark.

Chorus: But here is a man of much renown
of eyesight clear and steady hand
whose fearlessness was early found
in leadership of that same band
when surveyed they, left, right, up, down,
the entirety of Fairy-Land

Yet mark well what he says to us
and what he merely utters
as an actor in a play sometimes
pontificates and stutters
for when he speaks of skeptic doubt
no fairy deathward flutters!

Surveyor: I don't believe in fairies

Chorus: Yes he does

Surveyor: I surely do not!
I don't believe in fairies

Chorus: Yes he does!

Surveyor: I say to you, not!

I don't believe in fairies
I deny them sanctuaries
I've searched through all their eyries
they're as mythical as Ares..........
(spoken) .....Erysipilas in cats!

I've been to Zanzibar, to black Darfar,
and the Sahari
I've been to Malabar, with Bolivar,
on a Safari!
I have even gone to San Far...........
(spoken) .....ancisco! No fairies there, eh?

I don't believe in fairies

Chorus: Yes he does

Surveyor: There aren't any!

Chorus: A fairy's always near to you. See us?

Surveyor: I'd give a penny!
I don't believe in fairies
This I swear, upon my soul!
I've never seen a fairy

Chorus: He's an actor in a role!

Surveyor: (hands on hips in frustration) No one's seen 'em!

Chorus: Don't demean him!

Lead Soprano: He's salaried to say so

Surveyor: (stamps foot in anger) (spoken): Not a single peso!

There are tales of little greenies
told by Turks to Vietnamese
told by kids to scare their mommies
told by Haoles to Malahinis
But I've tracked them all and -- finis! ..........
(spoken): .....even the Feenyurkans are a myth!

I have quartered every plot of land
from Kashmir to Eilat
No pictures have I in my hand
or testimony got
show me a Leprechaun who's stand-
ing right there with his pot
It's all a load of Rot..........
(spoken) ......terdam rubbish

The light of truth, Hyperion,
gleams wherever I tarry
An admirable criterion
in search of it I harry
As wrong to borrow funds from Peter
to pay Pan: be chary
of claims of sighting fairies,
James, I urge you, them do bury!

I don't believe in fairies

Lead Soprano: I think you will

Surveyor: I didn't hear that

Lead Soprano: You'll soon believe in fairies

Surveyor: I'm feeling ill

Lead Soprano: But not just quite yet

Surveyor: I don't believe in fairies

Chorus: Yes he does

Surveyor: I must confess it

Chorus: He does believe in fairies!

Surveyor: Faith I do, I see you've guessed it!
I'm a singer and a player
No surveyor, merely dressed it!
I do believe in fairies.....

Chorus: H'ray! He does!

Surveyor: And now desist it!
I am a fine Surveyor!

Chorus: And Fairyland?

Surveyor: I never missed it!