Fanny, Mary, and Alexandra, three strong and adventurous women, are at the center of Overmyer’s play, first performed in 1985 at Baltimore’s Center Stage. These three women are good friends as they trek through Terra Incognita in the late 19th century, adventuring—dressed in dresses with backpacks and umbrellas—from the Himalayan mountains to the depths of Africa, busy keeping their journals along the way, with they share with the audience. Although they are aligned in their sense of adventure, they are each very different, at least by type: Mary, the eldest, is, as Overmyer describes her: “the leader, a passionate scientist, ebullient, joyful, not dray or academic. She is from Boston, but not affect a pronounced Boston accent. Fanny, from the Midwest, is conservative, but with a “wry wit.” Alex, the youngest, is “an apostle of the future, she is most modern, most out of place in the Victorian world. She has boundless energy.
alex: The Grand Tetons are a lovely little range
fanny: Someday they will be preserved as a national park
by Teddy Roosevelt.
mary: Teddy Roosevelt?
alex: I’ve never heard of him.
fanny: His statue is in front of the Museum of Natural History.
mary: In New York? No. It is not. Not when I was there last.
fanny: Certainly not. That statue will not be erected until 1936.
Billions of new worlds, waiting to be discovered. Explored
and illuminated. Within and without. The nautilus shell
mimics the shape of the Milky Way. Quarks and quasars.
My face is bathed in light from a vanished star. (Beat) I stand
on the precipice. The air is rare. Bracing. Before me stretch
dark distances. Clusters of light. What next? I have no idea.
Many mysteries to come. I am on the verge.