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Tarlike (11-14s/8-18s)

By Daniel Orejon

As Christmas Eve dawns on a distant asteroid orbiting with Jupiter, Reverie can’t wait to find the present she begged for under the tree. But when Mother Tar, the three-mouthed behemoth of oil and bone that runs the shelter, finds her opening presents early, she teleports all the presents away in a rage and cancels Christmas for everyone.

Now it’s up to Reverie and her gang to retrieve their gifts and find Father Christmas at the dark side of the asteroid, dodging Reindroids, black holes and even the dreaded Quasar Beast along the way.

A gothic sci-fi quest of Christmassy proportions!


An asteroid orbiting with Jupiter

First produced

December 2023; directed by James Beagon


Gothic, Sci-Fi, Christmas, Drama

Cast Size


Recommended for performers aged

11-14, 8-18

Running Time

45 minutes

Recommended for audiences aged


Script Extract:

Alone, alone the darkness drifted
Across, across the solar night
She mended and tended to all of her children
Neglected and tarlike!

SCENE 1. The Living Quarters.

Early morning on Christmas Day.

The thunder of asteroids crashing in the distance. The thrumming of static, magnetism and radiation.

            The living quarters of the shelter. Grey and silver and copper. A holographic Christmas tree flickers in the corner between a window looking out into an asteroid-speckled night sky and a chromic fireplace burning neon blue.

            As the play begins, a shadowy figure in red hues carrying a massive sack crawls out of the fireplace. He chucks the sack by the tree and opens it a little, letting a mountain of presents of different sizes and shapes cascade from it onto the floor.

            As he crawls back up the chimney, REVERIE tiptoes in.

REVERIE. (whispering) Father Christmas? (rushing to the fireplace; calling up the chute) Father Christmas, is that you?

            She notices the huge sack of presents and darts across the room towards it. She starts browsing through the presents, looking for her own name.

REVERIE. Bulwark. Ripple. Mayhem. Another one for Ripple. Owlet. Fallacy. Mother Tar?!

            She glances around, checking no one is watching, then places the present on the floor and angrily stomps on it. As she flattens it, OWLET appears at the threshold.

OWLET. Reverie?

REVERIE. (startled) OH, YOU…! (quickly chucking the present into the fire) What is it, Owlet? Scared the Quasar Beast will snatch you in your sleep?

OWLET. You weren’t coming back to your bed, and I got worried.

REVERIE. (going back to browsing the presents) Everything is fine. Just leave me alone.

OWLET. Mother Tar says we have to wait till we’re all together to open the presents.

REVERIE. Owlet, who’s been in the shelter the longest?

OWLET. Well, it’s you (but that doesn’t mean…)

REVERIE. And who’s the one that looks after you all?

OWLET. Well, Mother Tar (buys all the food and…)

REVERIE. Me, Owlet. I’m the one. So, stop nagging me, will you?

OWLET. (takes a deep breath) I was just worried that (something had happened to you).

REVERIE. Aha, here it is! “For Reverie”.

            As she’s about to open it, BULWARK and MAYHEM enter.

MAYHEM. Cool! We’re starting early with presents.

BULWARK. (running towards the pile of presents) Christmas dive!

            Bulwark jumps into the pile of presents. Everyone but Reverie laughs at the scene. In the commotion, Reverie loses her present.

REVERIE. Wait, no, where is it? Where did it go…?!

MAYHEM. Bulwark, that was sick!

OWLET. Mayhem, keep it quiet.

BULWARK. Reverie’s the one screeching about presents.



REVERIE. (forcing herself to speak more quietly) Please. I’m just looking for one present. I swear, if you help me find it, I’ll play with you all and do whatever you ask of me for the rest of Christmas Day. But please, I need to find this present.

BULWARK. We’ll lend a hand. Mayhem, you check that pile and I check this one.

MAYHEM. Roger that!

            Bulwark and Mayhem start methodically checking every present, looking for Reverie’s. Reverie retreats a little after her outburst. Owlet approaches her.

OWLET. What did you ask for this Christmas?

REVERIE. None of your business. (noticing Owlet’s reaction) It’s nothing important.

OWLET. You’re lying.

Reverie gives her a look.

REVERIE. I begged Father Christmas for it. Literally, last year, I caught him on his way out, begged him on my knees. He said he’d send it this year. He promised.

OWLET. Is it a toy?

REVERIE. In a sense.

OWLET. Will you let me play with it?

REVERIE. Sure. We can all play together. After we find it.

MAYHEM. We found it!

            Mayhem brings a little scarlet box to Reverie. She starts to unwrap it. The other kids gather around.

BULWARK. Oooh, exciting!

OWLET. What are you excited about?

BULWARK. Absolutely no idea.

REVERIE. You’re such a doughnut, Bulwark.

MAYHEM. Hey hey, he’s my doughnut.


            Reverie has opened the present. She withdraws a pack of space cookies.

MAYHEM. Cool! Space cookies.

BULWARK. The pricey kind too.

REVERIE. This isn’t it. There has to be another present.

            Enter FALLACY.

FALLACY. Tsk tsk tsk. What have we got here?

BULWARK. Argh, not Fallacy.

REVERIE. Aren’t you meant to be looking after Ripple?

OWLET. You promised Mother Tar.

FALLACY. Ripple’s still in bed. You should be too. And yet here you are, opening presents before we’re supposed to. Tsk. I’m gonna have to tell Mother Tar about it.

MAYHEM. Don’t.

OWLET. Please.

FALLACY. (shrugging, walking away) Sorry. Mother Tar…

REVERIE. Wait. You know Fallacy, I got these really expensive space cookies for Christmas…

            Fallacy stops and turns around.


REVERIE. It’s actually way too many for me. I couldn’t possibly eat them all.

FALLACY. Must be hard.

REVERIE. I could give you half the packet if you promise not to tell Mother Tar.

FALLACY. The whole packet.

BULWARK. What?! But they’re the pricey type.

REVERIE. (handing the cookies over to Fallacy) Do you promise?

FALLACY. Oh, I swear.

BULWARK. You always have to make things difficult, don’t you Fal?

FALLACY. (munching on a cookie) Hey hey hey, I’m the good guy here. If I wasn’t so nice, I would’ve had to tell Mother Tar (about you all.)

            Enter NUISANCE and CANDOUR.

NUISANCE. Tell Mother Tar what?

            Everyone turns to them.

FALLACY. Oh shoot.

NUISANCE. Why are you all out of bed?

CANDOUR. Look Nuisance, they’ve opened a present.

FALLACY. Oh, this is Reverie’s.

REVERIE. Fallacy, we made a deal.

FALLACY. And my word is my oath. I haven’t told Mother Tar, have I?


            Candour runs off the room shouting. The other kids rush to tidy up the pile of presents. Fallacy leisurely munches on another of his bribe cookies.

NUISANCE. You’re all in soooooooo much trouble.

REVERIE. You ungrateful brat. I looked after you when you got meteor fever. I taught you the multiplication tables.

NUISANCE. And I. Don’t. Care.

BITTER. (offstage) What’s going on?

OWLET. (breathing erratically) Oh no, oh no, oh no…


Daniel Orejon

Workshop Leader: Friday 12-18s Film

Daniel Orejon is a theatremaker and performer. He has been commissioned by the Edinburgh Multilingual Stories Festival and collaborated with Scottish Youth Theatre and the Edinburgh International Science Festival. He is the artistic director of the Crested Fools, with whom he has created ‘Becquer’s Legends’ and his first solo show ‘The Rotting Hart’. He specialises in projects that focus on multiculturalism, queerness and mental health, with a special fondness for all things Hispanic.

If you are interested in this script, please email James at james@strangetown.org.uk