The play begins in front of closed curtains. The playwright describes the setting thus: _“A curtain with the faded Cross of St George. A proscenium adorned with cherubs and woodland scenes. Dragons. Maidens. Devils. Half-and-half creatures. Across the beam: — THE ENGLISH STAGE COMPANY —“ _ A drum starts to beat, accordions and pipes strike up, and the house lights come down.
A fifteen year-old girl, Phaedra, walks to center stage in front of the curtain. She is dressed like a fairy. She curtsies to the audience and sings, unaccompanied, the opening verses of “Jerusalem”, a poem by William Blake that has music by Sir Hubert Perry. After singing a verse, she smiles, pulls a string attached to her costume that makes her fairy wings flap, and continues her song. As she sings, “And Jerusalem was builded here, / Among those dark satanic --” loud, pounding music rings out, and Phaedra flees the stage. The curtain rises.
A clearing of a moonlit wood in England. It is