With high-pulse murky autumnal theatricalities Why Does My House Make Creaking Noises? (GEpH009LP) effectively emboldens the fanatically popular fog-world of clandestine cobwebby devotionally disturbing Jacobean electronic musicke (JED). In JACOBEAN WHODUNIT, professional puzzle-brain Pusskin Sprywhistle deftly serves a gourmet panorama of food for thought, providing armchair ponderers plenty to chew upon.

Of all the 17th century playwrights still recognised in this modern age, the name of Tobias Haywain undoubtably casts the most illusive shadow. While his incomparable 'Purposeful Mewl', incomplete 'Gremalkarkis Kiss' and incomprehensible 'Servile of Shrewtown' are occasionally performed by an adventurous, experimental (or foolhardy) repertory company, it is only the recent discovery of the long-thought lost 'Haywain Manuscripts' that has allowed several of his missing jewels to glitteringly resurface.

For many, 'Newes from Fancies’ Pieshoppe' has been greatest cause for celebration, causing as it does a substantial reappraisal of Haywain’s uniquely satirical sensibilities. But it is undoubtably the baffling perplexities of 'Why Does My House Make Creaking Noises?' that purposely pricks the eyes of the more discerning theatrical scholar.

On the surface 'Why Does My House Make Creaking Noises?' is fairly typical of the oppressive and uncertain dramas that came to typify much of the early Jacobean era. A selection of otherworldly characters meet within the darkened autumnal rooms of a ghastly manor-house to plot and counter-plot a festering brew of diabolical machinations. As yellow mist slowly rises to surround the kingdom, various vagabonds and renegade cony-catchers conceal themselves within thorny outcrops, patiently biding their time, awaiting an unnatural call-to-arms.

Scenes such as these are certainly atmospheric, but it is within the arcane and fruity dialogue that the real mystery begins to surface, as many characters appear to opaquely express a knowledge of events beyond their time and understanding.

Haywain depicts just such a moment in act 2: 'Crafty & Familiar'. Treacherous nobleman Grondanus Murtbabb lurks ears-peeled, confined inside a tiny concealed staircase as the defrocked Dothaniel Peachkrab preens and whispers through a ventilated wooden pineapple:

PEACHKRAB: You are resolved in our present fancies?

MURTBABB: Aye. Resolved, most resolved.

PEACHKRAB: You have knowledge of the spirits selected to attend?

MURTBABB: As long as they do not wish to manifest within this cramping portal, I do. Filthy aroma! Most stifling! It unfolds error.

PEACHKRAB: Ho no, nay, no! such confinement shape is necessary. If word was to escape, following suspicions would breed as mice within my cheese cellar.

MURTBABB: What has not escaped notice, that it is thee outfaced, unspotted, perching upon rails as, once more, I contort precious spleen within the squandered space of this wooden dwelling deforming my senses!

PEACHKRAB: Ah! For powerful meddling as ours, such minor discourtesy has fine majority of recompense.

MURTBABB: I do haemorrhage!

Although farcically baroque upon first reading, several months of dedicated research have unearthed events that uncannily echo those depicted here, but puzzlingly transposed forward 300 centuries or more. In 1936 the remains of Sir Anthony Babbmurt (infamous right honourable member for Stonyedam South) were found within several hundred jars of crab-peach relish, stored in the stairwell closet of a Northern restaurant-cum-taxidermy. Adding to the mystery, that establishment was itself built upon the grounds of a stately home that had burnt to the ground in 1878 under suspicious circumstances.

The temporal peculiarities continue into act 4: 'Innermost Rooms', as by candlelight three otherworldly spirits, Brocc, Brown and Bellnight, are summoned to interminably instruct the traitorous and callow Lord Richworth Wentmond in how to dress suitably for arcane subterfuge:

BROCC: Such fabrics glisten between moon-thyme, concealed inside a thinning rhyme, now the chameleon rethinks positions, hollowed to peering inquisitions.

BROWN: Gt’hasr’aht. S’jug’kin fl’g’th’th.

BELLNIGHT: I was sewing all night, avoiding sly pricke, presenting fancie’s stockings thick, as warm as blood, a deeper hue, slow to cool inside of ewe.

LORD WENTMOND: This really is most kind, although if ewe don’t mind, I must be getting along, before sensibilities’ entirely gone.

BROCC: let me prophecy, turning not eye, for lost heads no longer spy, the silvery wind of howling fences, this stupendous smock deceives the senses.

BROWN: T’hasr’aggh. BroWke.

BELLNIGHT: I enact all fashions of attire, from lowest mortal to regal higher, drained of essence, soul to drown, gorgeous apparel, this summer’s gown.

LORD WENTMOND: Look you, the most I caught of that, but what regards my fancie hat?

BROCC: Brandish cap toward the sky, shiver your duds ~ ghost passes by. Thoughts inside this chamber, now the deed is done, now flames heartily lick, beneath a reddened sunne.

BROWN: P’Gthab’ii’siio.

BELLNIGHT: I foresee this aim rewarded, with intension fully thwarted, as linen enfolds your cheating shoulders, beware three dire-eye spry beholders.

LORD WENTMOND: Well thank you for such illumination, cease all further rumination, it could not be clearer what to do, do not call upon me, I will call upon you.

While the scene plays out for a further three hours, hidden within this particular stretch of dialogue are more oblique predictions of the future, this time regarding the unfortunate demise of society lush Lord Wentworth Richmond in 1964. After an extended evening soiree, Lord Richmond accidentally strangled himself whilst attempting to disrobe a complicated flouncy shirt his chief dresser had recently procured from an exclusive couturier.

Peculiarities continued at the extravagant funeral, when three uninvited guests, exquisitely wearing antiquated costumes, languidly threw rotten fruit into his open grave whilst perched upon the overhanging branches of an ancient elm tree.

In act six: 'Picking of Poisoned Pulses' Lady Jane Chimnley conspires with the immaculate ghost of her identical ancestor Lady Anne Chimnley, to concoct an elaborate banquet prepared entirely from an intricate lattice of slow-release poisonous ingredients:

LADY ANNE: take two timbrels and bind field pea

LADY JANE: figging law, instruct feline fly to sea.

LADY ANNE: crack infused into henbane’s egg

LADY JANE: cly the jerk upon cassan leg.

LADY ANNE: inkle yew with yarrum sour

LADY JANE: familiar returns the styptic flour.

LADY ANNE: cut all and gather, the moon in wane

LADY JANE: now brew in increasing, or give it her bane.

LADY ANNE: bone beef, a piece, black brewis, as much as they will eat

LADY JANE: bleating-cheat snap bartholomew babies’ feet.

LADY ANNE: garnish overlicked weasand-pipe clack

LADY JANE: ruff-peck rumpscuttle shamefast shrap.

LADY ANNE: With explicit resolve repeat upon three ~ och, choc, a proper char-ley.

LADY JANE: Och, choc, a proper char-ley.

Even the most casual reader cannot fail to notice that these ingredients exactly match the recipes used in the recently televised live finale of popular marathon cookery competition 'Slow Cook Off', where 13 competitors sequentially simmered unusual meals for a minimum of 12 hours to catastrophic effect.

The method Tobias Haywain used to collect these oddly prescient thoughts is unclear. Several professional debunkers have blusteringly withdrawn their disbeliefs, after numerous attempts to comprehensively disprove Haywain’s words proved illusively inconclusive. Perhaps it is all nothing more than a curious coincidence, a case of peering too hard into murky water. But it is surely worth noting that the play’s ambiguous final scene, where the features of a gigantic black cat manifest within the flames of an unearthly bonfire, do in many ways mirror the eerie, unexplained cloud formations that have recently blotted out the sun across central London.

As always, I shall leave you to draw your own conclusions, which you can send to me at the usual address.

Pusskin Sprywhistle 1982