Character & Story Synopses

Character & Story Synopses

THE STORY:

Finding Mr. Mambrino is a modern-day takeoff on Don Quixote. The character of Don Quixote, an elderly Spanish gentleman, is replaced by Daniel Quincy Joseph, “Quince” for short, who has spent his time absorbing pulp fiction novels and films noir rather than chivalric romance in Don Quixote. When his favourite teacher and close friend, Mr. Mambrino, is in a car accident and the student body is told he was killed, Quince––whether through delusion or actual suspicion––decides to investigate.

He recruits his best friend Donna, and an underclassman whom he has tutored, Sampson, to help him investigate. Meeting with opposition from the school administration, the district, and his own group of friends, Quince discovers the whole incident may have been staged to avoid a larger scandal with the district, and it’s possible Mambrino is still alive. Between film noir and everyday life, the story blurs the lines between fact and fiction.

 

THE CHARACTERS:

QUINCE: The protagonist of the film, Quince is a bit of a mess. He is borderline obsessed with the stories in dime novels and B-Movies, he is constantly late to appointments, the sort of person people would say has his head in the clouds, and his friends largely enable him. He has occasional daydreams that his life is a film noir, but they are harmless until he is informed of Mr. Mambrino’s death, at which point he takes up the mantle of Private Investigator, starts smoking, and skips school to pursue some leads on how Mambrino may or may not have died.

As his regular self, he is largely without motivation, and fairly mediocre as far as people go. However, while he is in his delusions as a detective, he is suave, confident, a man with a plan–usually, until things go awry.

Quince’s adventures and investigations fracture his group of friends, he and Donna having formed part of the nucleus of the group. His friends, concerned with his safety, try to stop him from pursuing his leads, and as such, he distances himself from them, and this creates a great deal of friction.

DONNA: The female lead, Donna is level-headed, alert, and put-together. She is Quince’s closest friend and confidante, as well as, depending on whom you ask, either his rock or his enabler. She is the caretaker of the group, and her friends depend on her to keep them on their toes, keep them honest, and provide tutoring assistance when necessary.

She is based in the film noir secretary archetype. These characters in films noir (e.g. The Maltese Falcon) are often far more put together than the detective they assist, and her relationship to Quince is no exception. Imitating the carry-over misogyny of the genre, Quince initially asks Donna to help him in a secondary, auxiliary capacity. She challenges this, and through her initiative and thoroughness becomes his equal in the investigation, more so even than Sampson.

Donna is academically focused, and therefore is outside the social core of their friend group, but nonetheless is an integral member. She has always been closer to Quince than the rest of the group, and vice versa. Tension arises from this fact because Nicholas fancies her, or at least cares about her disproportionately to her role in his life. She is oblivious to that fact, but we get the impression that at least a little bit of his motivation in sabotaging Quince’s investigation is because he’s jealous of her closeness to Quince.

SAMPSON: Based on Sancho Panza from Don Quixote, Sampson is Quince’s dopey, pudgy sidekick. He is recruited from Mr. Mambrino’s class, and goes along with Quince’s investigation in exchange for a promise to get Sampson an A in English class. He is often skeptical, not connecting the dots that Quince does, whether because he lacks the mental agility to do so or because Quince is making too big a leap. However, after being beaten in an alley after obtaining valuable evidence, he sees the gravity of the case.

Sampson often provides the comic relief in scenes, making malapropisms in the tradition of Sancho Panza and classical comedy.

  1. MAMBRINO : The beloved but often controversial English 10 teacher, Mambrino is Quince’s favourite teacher and a fellow film noir/pulp fiction lover. A former journalist, he investigated embezzling in the school district, and that may or may not have been connected to the car accident which begins Quince’s investigation. He is old-fashioned, and provides a convenient bridge between Quince’s delusions and his real life.

LUCY : A member of Quince and Donna’s friend group, she is Cardenio’s girlfriend, adversarial toward Mambrino and, by extension, adversarial toward Quince and his fantasies.

CARDENIO : Lucy’s boyfriend, he is well-meaning and fun-loving. He provides levity to the friend group, and does not try to stop Quince until it is apparent that his investigation could bring harm to himself and others.

NICHOLAS : The hard-nosed intellectual of the group, he is immediately opposed to Quince’s pursuits, seeing them as a flight of fancy and nothing more. It doesn’t help matters that Quince is taking away his time with Donna, whom he cares about deeply.

DOROTHY : A bit scattered herself, Dorothy tacitly supports the investigation in its early stages, but like Nicholas, becomes wary once she sees how deep Donna has been sucked into Quince’s “fantasy”.

HALL MONITOR : Showing up almost only in Quince’s delusional states, the Hall Monitor is a short man with a Napoleon complex, and enjoys power tripping, specifically making hell for Quince whenever possible.

SALLY : A sassy former student of Mambrino’s, Sally now works in the financial office, and tips Quince off to some suspicious financial discrepancies that help in his case.

PRINCIPAL MILLER : Often adversarial toward Quince, nobody is sure whose side he is on––Mambrino’s, or the School District’s. He is our best link to what actually happened to Mr. Mambrino, but never truly divulges what he knows, or how much. A role which could easily be gender-swapped.

  1. ASMAN : A school district clerk that does not put up with Quince and Sampson’s nonsense when they visit the district offices.

JONES : School counselor whose help is sought out by Quince’s friends as they become increasingly worried about his mental state.

LINDA : Quince’s mother, unsure of what to make of her son’s occasional disappearances.

CERVANTEZ: Retired art teacher at Quince’s school, possibly senile.

RICARDO : Mr. Cervantez’s landscaper, who catches Quince and his compatriots outside the Cervantez home and informs them that not everything in Cervantez’s interview was as it seemed.

NURSE : Attending nurse when Quince and Donna visit Sampson in the hospital.

JANITOR : A school district janitor whom Quince and Sampson encounter when they break into district HQ. He seems simply to be a custodian, but functions in a guard capacity when Quince is in his film noir mindset.

JANINE : Sampson’s worried mother

OFFICER MILLER: Brother to Principal Miller, his connection with the Mambrino case is muddled.

HALL MONITOR #2: Extra muscle when Hall Monitor #1 is sent as security detail.

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Character and Story Synopses