The following post expounds in more detail on the play.
The play tells the story of the final days of General Charles Gordon, the governor of the Sudan, who died during the end of one of the longest sieges in history on 24th January 1885, two days before the British expeditionary force reached Khartoum. The inhabitants of Khartoum were killed by the Mahdist forces; how Gordon died is uncertain because of contradictory eyewitness accounts. His last journal entry, dated 14th December, 1884, was smuggled out of Khartoum. What occurred afterwards is unknown. The play uses biographical studies from the period and newspaper accounts, plus how Gordon’s friends perceived him, to portray this enigmatic man who was determined to end slavery in Africa and the Sudan. Most of Gordon’s correspondence was to his sister, Augusta. The play uses this motif as Gordon speaks introspectively, knowing catastrophe awaits those in Khartoum. I have included an extract from the play below.
Gordon: My dining companion, the little mouse that runs up the table leg, did not appear tonight, Augusta. It is a lonely death when there is no-one to converse with. They are all gone now: Stewart, Power, and Herbin. We sat here many a night, ruminating. The mouse was probably disturbed by the sounds of the Krupp’s field guns that have rarely ceased firing at us from the South Side. I must have made good target practice when I stood on the roof of the tower earlier this afternoon. (Sighs). All will soon be gone. I wonder if anyone would believe me that a mouse could be worshipped by ancient races and not killed? Many questions remain unanswered. The one that gave me much hilarity was that Khartoum had fallen three months previously and I was being held prisoner by the Mahdi. There are people who are against us. The grand old man will put pepper on his fingernails, rub his eyes, and his fake tears will be shed when he hears of my death. . .
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