Trowel By Jury – The Musical

December 18, 2009

A touching portrayal of life in an archaeological field unit where things are not always as they seem…

Meet Gary Muckley, a down to earth (as it were) archaeologist who is thrust into the unfamiliar world of politics and corruption. Soon he finds he must fight to save his job, reputation, love and ultimately his life.

Synopsis of plot:

The play centres on the main character, Gary Muckley, who is a down-to-earth archaeologist working for a large archaeological unit. We see him through his bitter struggle to climb the corporate ladder of the unit in order to gain the respect and – who knows – love, of the girl he loves. It is the classic tried and tested formula of ‘country bumpkin meets glamorous city girl’, set in the world of field archaeology and high office politics.


As the story opens Gary is a simple digger, leading a directionless and self-gratifying life [Digger Happy!] and never stopping to look at what he’s missing. Meanwhile Annie Looker, a trendy town girl, is given the job of archaeological illustrator in the same unit as Gary [Drawing Office Jingle!]. Everything changes for our hero as he first sees Annie at the weekly archaeologists Friday night drink at the local pub, The Hawk [Pots and Plans]. Having seen her and fallen deeply in love, his outlook on life changes entirely as he experiences a profound epiphany [The Find of My Life]. Things don’t go entirely to plan however, and he has to admire her from afar [Survey Song]. In order to gain her esteem he begins his new life as an office worker; based in the Consultancy department (just across the hall from the Drawing office) [Song?]. Here he finds himself out of his depth [First Day in Consultancy] and soon begins to despair in his failing attempts to woo his beloved Annie.

Gary struggles to fit in and integrate himself into this world of 9 to 5, and soon attracts the negative attention of the Consultancy office boss: Anton Swine [Song?]. His arch – rival is the hugely contrasting Rod Redhouse from the drawing office across the entrance hall. The two soon find themselves head-to-head in a very prestigious ‘manager of the year’ award [Rod and Anton] so both buckle down and become ever more severe with their staff. The two rivals also make attempts to sabotage the other’s office work, ending in great confusion [Song?].

Anton also has his eye on Annie and, noticing the undeniable chemistry between her and Gary, sets seeds of doubt in both minds. He uncovers much of Gary’s past as a digger and exaggerates his womanising behaviour to Annie [I’ve Dug Up the Past]. He then convinces Gary that he has no chance with Annie. Annie, believing all that Anton has told her, resolves to fight her blossoming love for Gary and walk away from what could have been [Fieldwalking]

Gary, disillusioned by the office politics he has encountered and the corruption he has unwittingly uncovered, and believing Annie to be totally indifferent to his advances, hands in his resignation to Anton, who had already planted this idea in his mind. Full of regrets, he returns to his former existence as an ordinary digger [I’ll Dig Myself a Hole] and is welcomed back by his long abandoned friends…


As the curtains open Gary is digging again and again in the thick of the revelry [A Little More Excavation]. He  discovers a hugely important, significant and precious find. This gets him on the local news “South Today” and in papers as prestigious as the Local Times [Level-Headed]. He is propelled to fame and welcomed back into the bosom of the Unit. Annie also finally admits about her love for him and the two begin a secret affair [RadioCarbon Dating]. But… the find goes missing! Everybody blames Gary for this and he is very publicly sacked and told he’ll never work in archaeology again [Career in Ruins]. Anton very significantly grins through this announcement.

Over the next few weeks Anton starts turning up at work in big expensive fur coats, gold rings and smokes large Cuban cigars. People comment that he is looking well but can’t quite put their finger on why. Annie marks the change and becomes suspicious [Song?].

Between them her and Gary discover that there is a long history of finds ‘disappearing’ from the unit with no explanation, and that Anton always has access to them [Song?]. They uncover a fiendish criminal mastermind who steals precious archaeological finds and then sells them on to Arabian millionaires. Gary confronts Anton in his office. He confesses all privately [Dirt Under My Nails] before attacking him. Gary manages to get away and Anton shouts after him, very publicly, “You attacked me! You are a disgrace to archaeology!”, and everyone believes him.

It is then up to Gary to break in to Anton’s office by enlisting the help of his archaeological friends and tunnelling their way in with trowels, and find his secret stash of finds and receipts [Digging up Dirt]. Anton’s office is guarded not only by locks and bolts, but in the event of somebody tunnelling their way in (he was expecting an attempt from Gary) there are a collection of booby traps which take out all Gary’s friends one by one. Beneath Anton’s office he uncovers a labarynth of passages and chambers that he uses as his criminal base, which he accesses from a trap door beneath his desk. There are more booby traps as he proceeds alone [Trowels and Tribulations?]. He is met by one of Anton’s droogs and in true Indiana Jones style he gets consumed in a fight that prevents him completing his mission.

The events come to a head at the AGM, where Dave Jennings is set to announce the winner of the Manager of the Year award [Song?]. It seems to be a set victory for Anton, who has public support on his side (he’s been splashing his money around left right and centre). Annie has the job of introducing DJ on to the stage and she takes the opportunity to stall the proceedings as much as possible.

Meanwhile, Gary, at great personal risk manages to overthrow his opponent, finds hard evidence of Anton’s dastardly criminal activities and runs to the venue of the AGM [Song?] – will he get there in time to stop Anton receiving the award! Tension! Annie eventually runs out of things to say and leaves the stage with a small, very polite and unenthusiastic applause. Anton is getting edgy and wants to hurry proceedings but Annie suggests to DJ that he should make a really long speech, which he does. Annie and Anton are both edgy and looking at their watches a lot (in the film version the AGM is cut between shots of Gary running in the dark across the city).

Eventually, DJ’s speech draws to a close and he says “And without further ado, the winner is… Ant – “

At this point Gary rushes in shouting “Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!”. All look round, confused and startled as Gary explains all he has found. Annie throws herself around him as he receives an official apology from DJ and, by way of thanks, is awarded the trophy himself. Anton does a lot of shaking fists before being bundled off by the police to await trial [I Think I’ve Found My Bottom]. The possibility of a sequel is left tantalisingly open when Anton shrieks: “I’ll be back!!”

The finale of the musical is the wedding of our hero and heroine that same night at the AGM presided over by Dave Jennings (it is a little known fact that, like sea captains, heads of archaeological units can legally perform marriage services) [I Dig Everything].

They all live happily ever after.

Gary Muckley – Mathew from Eastenders

Annie Looker – Cat Deely

Anton Swine – Ralph Fiennes

Archie & Dug – Ant & Dec

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: All characters in this play are entirely fictional.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is merely coincidental.
Songs:Act I

Digger Happy!

Drawing Office Jingle

Pots and Plans

Diggin’ An ‘Ole*

The Find of My Life

Survey Song

First Day in Consultancy

Rod and Anton

I’ve Dug Up the Past


I’ll Dig Myself a Hole

Act II

A Little More Excavation


Radiocarbon Dating!

Career in Ruins

Dirt Under My Nails

Digging Up Dirt

I Think I’ve Found My Bottom

I Dig Everything!

All songs by Lucinda Martinez except

† written by P.Lorimer

* written by B.Cribbins


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