LADYSHIP - Synopsis

Setting: London, England 1789



Irish teenage sisters Alice and Mary have been accused of committing a petty crime and are standing trial for stealing a handkerchief. Facing a corrupt justice system, they find they have no say in who determines their fate (“Who Decides”). The sisters are thrown into an over-crowded jail full of poor, starving young women and are unfairly sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia (“Seven Years”). They meet Kitty, an orphan falsely accused of theft and soon learn they are all victims of a government plan that tries to rid the streets of the poor by doling out punishments that severely outweigh the crimes (“The Bloody Code). Alice and Mary survive the night by hanging on to a glimmer of hope (“A Way Out”). 


After the female convicts are loaded onto a ship bound for Australia, they are herded into a dark jail cell in the foul bottom of the ship. Captain Adams, aided by his privileged nephew Lt. Adams and Deck Officer Zeke, has to make sure the women arrive alive, so they can be workers and wives to the male convicts already there. A mixed-race seaman, Finn, catches the eye of Mary. Abigail, a card sharper, and Lady Jane, a disgraced high-society woman, join them in wondering how they will endure the arduous ten-month journey. Kitty imagines a better future (“So Many Stars”). Harassed by the ship’s seamen, the women become increasingly emaciated (“Pour Another Rum”). Good-hearted Finn tries to help the women and begins to fall in love with Mary (“Ready to Begin”).


As weeks pass and hope fades, Abigail suggests there is a way to get protection, warmth and better food by becoming “temporary wives” to the seamen, an old seafaring custom (“Only the Strong Survive”). After Sunday service on deck, the Captain orders the women to dance for exercise ("The Emerald Wye”). As night falls, some of the women consider Abigail’s suggestion, while Mary waits for Finn. A drunken Lieutenant attacks Mary, and Alice and Finn contemplate revenge (“Never Burns Away”). The women comfort Mary as time passes ("Sparrow, Sparrow"). As the ship reaches its first port, Rio, Abigail suggests the women make money using every skill they have, even if it’s prostitution. Lady Jane and Kitty hope to use their sewing skills instead, while Alice ponders what to do (“Everything Has a Price”). As Finn prepares to run away with Mary, she tells him she is pregnant.



After a month docked in Rio ("Até Logo"), Lady Jane confronts the Captain about what the future will be for the convicts and their unborn children (“I Need An Anchor”). Alice overhears the hard truth that Mary’s baby will be taken away upon arrival to the new colony (“No Matter Where We’re Bound”). Undaunted, Alice encourages the women to fight back against their oppressors (“I’m Done”). As a storm approaches, an angry Lieutenant throws Mary down on the deck. The ship rocks, lightning flashes, and Finn and the Lieutenant fall overboard. Alice must choose who she helps.


Alice comforts Mary (“I’ll Be Your Anchor”), but the fall causes her to go into labor. The women encircle Mary, encouraging her to summon her inner strength (“Dig Deep”). Mary almost dies in childbirth, but survives with support of the women on board. Alice vows to do whatever it takes to protect those she loves (“I’ll Find a Way”). As the ship approaches Sydney Cove, the women join together and steel themselves for what lies ahead (“Finale”).

Ladyship the Musical: Book, Lyrics and Music by Linda Good and Laura Good ©2019