On a ship bound for the Antarctic, an old-timer does his best to keep his deadbeat alcoholic grandson on the straight and narrow, a pair of one-time lovers fight over what that night meant, and a crazed eco-terrorist makes plans to violently change the world.
Setup & Act One – One violent act can change the world.
In Fiasco, characters are created in play by building a web of relationships, needs, objects and locations between each player at the table. At the end of the Setup, the characters were defined like this:
Grampa – An old-timer with a gambling habit and too many debts to his name. Recently found a job for his Grandson, Charlie on board the ship.
Charlie – Adrift in an uncaring world, he seems to want something to hold on to. He is struggling to find his place amongst the crew at his new job.
Gerty – Angry at the establishment, this woman won’t let others push her around. Her fling with Lauren has left a burning desire that almost overshadows her eco-terrorist ambitions. Almost.
Lauren – A young woman who runs an illegal betting ring aboard ship. A one-night-stand with Gerty is one of her biggest regrets.
ACT ONE – Scene summaries
Sc 1. Grampa and Lauren are crouched in a secluded part of the Nehblikov, a Russian Ice-breaker transport headed towards Mc Murdo Station in Antarctica. On a small radio, they struggle to hear the score for the Yankees game in New York. Grampa, having placed a heavy bet on the Yankees, is devastated to hear that they have lost, and Lauren tells him to pay up now. Grampa begs for time to get the money, but Lauren won’t accept. Finally, Grampa promises to repay her with interest as he thinks he can steal ‘something valuable’ from the ship for her.
Sc2. Charlie is sitting in Gerty’s cabin, listening to her talk about her plan to shock the world into protecting the planet through an act of eco-terrorism. Gerty’s plan hinges on replicating a ‘pink sea’ phenomena and making world headlines. The smitten Charlie offers to help, and Gerty tells him to steal aviation fuel from his own Grampa. Charlie hesitates, but Gerty threatens to kill Grampa if Charlie can’t get the fuel.
Sc3. Gerty confronts Lauren about their one night of passion together. Lauren tries to explain that it was a one night stand, but Gerty is angered by the suggestion. “You are mine!” Gerty tells Lauren, bullying and threatening her. Gerty knows about Lauren’s illegal betting ring and threatens to expose her if Lauren doesn’t help Gerty pull off her eco-terrorist act.
Sc4. Lauren, distraught, wanders above decks drinking a bottle of whiskey. Charlie runs into her, apparently happy to listen to her troubles, but secretly after the booze. Charlie downs the whole bottle, to Lauren’s disgust. They both lament the things that Gerty has asked them to do, and Charlie begins to develop something of a crush on Lauren.
Sc5. Grampa sees Charlie stumble into the mess hall, blind drunk after taking Lauren’s booze. Grampa tries to hide his drunken grandson’s behaviour, since he is meant to be on duty as ship’s Navigator. Charlie drunkenly tells Grampa that Gerty is causing trouble for himself and Lauren, and Grampa begins to worry. He warns Charlie to stay away from both women, gives him some black coffee and sends him back to work on the Bridge.
Sc6. Charlie, in his drunken stupor, navigates the ship too close to a small island that is part of a penguin preserve. The ship runs aground, causing some hull damage and forcing them to make repairs for several days before they can depart.
Sc7. Gerty congratulates Charlie for halting the experimentation of the ‘petro-chemical patriarchy’ by running the ship aground. Gerty’s plan has now changed – she plans to launch explosive-filled penguins as airborne bombs. Charlie shies away from stealing fuel from Grampa, but once more Gerty threatens to kill Grampa if Charlie doesn’t help. Gerty also cajoles Lauren in to working on Grampa to get fuel to construct the bombs. Charlie and Lauren grudgingly agree to follow Gerty’s instructions.
Sc8. Lauren approaches Grampa to call in her debt. She explains that needs something specific – aviation fuel. Grampa explains that it will be hard to get, but that he can do it if it will wipe his debt. When he presses Lauren for the reason she needs the fuel, she evades the question.
At the end of Act One, we have a penguin-killing eco-terrorist bullying his cronies into stealing bomb-making materials from an old man. What could go wrong from there? Just you wait and see. Come back next time for The Tilt, Act Two and the Aftermath in ‘The Ice’ Fiasco Gameplay – Part 2.