The Credit is an opera without music. The first Act recites the story of Hugh, a successful product of Jesuit education, who returns to school as a celebrity on prize-giving day. The occasion is clouded, if not spoiled, by the uninvited presence of a certain Doc McGuiness, a dodgy business associate.
The event is seen through the arias of Brother Jim, the janitor and sacristan, who brings into play ideas about language and learning development, to exemplify Pascal’s maxim, ‘We do not content ourselves with the life we have in ourselves and in our being, but desire to live an imaginary life in the minds of others, and for this purpose we endeavour to shine’.
Act two begins with the reported death of Hugo in Venice. Clearly implicated, Doc McGuiness and his moll Fleur hide out in seaside Chioggia until things die down. Drugs and alcohol make their life a surreal one, as Venice and environs transmogrify into a skeleton for a danse macabre.
Act three: the action moves onto the hill-town of Cioccolato where Hugo owns a bean factory. Vector and Velocity, young Harlem refugees and erstwhile students at the University for Strangers, while exploring the lower depths, come across a body and don’t report it to the police. They sit at the feet of a living statue of Dante Alighieri, and exchange pre-rap palaver and white substances with him. Doc and Fleur arrive posing as tourists, and Dante offers his services as a guide, and all descent down to the underground location of Hugo’s factory, where they find the aforesaid body, buried but not quite dead. The party set about cutting Hugo out when an earthquake hits the town. The prosody is syllabically based ottava rima, gradually segueing into rhyming free verse with occasional ballads. The illustrations are by John Parsons.
The Credit was first published as two books in 1980/85 by Menard Press/Advent Books. This edition is heavily revised.