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Solutions for Act IV Scene 4 - Cryptish

What at first appears to simply be a cryptic crossword soon turns out to be more fiendish than expected. Most of the clues seem too long and wordy to make cryptic sense in the traditional sense, where the clue is composed of one part wordplay and another part definition.

The trick to note here is that most clues are actually made up of three parts in this particular puzzle. The title "Cryptish" hints at the fact the clues are cryptic-like, but contain a twist/something extra. As well as the definition and wordplay components, there is a third part that seems to describe an unrelated word. For instance, 9-across is "Eastern European appreciates Western European leaving loo. (4)", and ignoring the "loo", this is a valid cryptic clue for the word SLAV. (See the appendix below for explanations.)

All things considered, navigating these clues is quite difficult, but upon discovering a handful a pattern should emerge: the extra component of each clue appears to describe a word that is a subword of the clued word - that is, a word that appears in the original word by picking particular letters from left to right. From our example, "loo" can imply LAV which is a subword of SLAV. Similarly 10-across clues HOOKE, excepting the word "tiller", which clues HOE.

Once all clues and respective subwords have been identified, we want to use this information to extract an answer. The idea here is to interpret each clue as being intended only for the subword in each case. As a result, we want to delete all extraneous letters by darkening their squares. So the square housing the S in SLAV would be darkened in the first case. The title vaguely comes into play here again as crypts are generally dark, and "crypt" is a subword of "cryptish". It's worth noting here that in the case of ambiguous double letters, the unchecked square is the one that's darkened. This makes sense since otherwise we'd be deleting a letter from the crossing word when its clue doesn't imply we should.

The result is summarised in the image below:



The final step is to observe the new grid we've created, possibly from a distance. We can see with the exception of a few extraneous squares, most dark cells now join up to create resemblances to letters. Reading left-right, top-bottom seems to spell out the message CHILE PINE GENUS. This is referencing the tree also known as the monkey puzzle, and its genus is Araucaria. This is the best-known pseudonym of the late great cruciverbalist Reverend John Graham.




Appendix: Clue explanations are briefly given below, in the order they appear in the puzzle. The part omitted from each clue (if any) is that which hinted at the subword respectively highlighted in the above image.

AnswerExplanation
ACROSS
Slav"eastern european" = VALUES ("appreciates") backwards ("western") minus EU ("european leaving")
HookeHE ("this guy") containing ("hugged") O (first ("maiden") One) + OK ("fine") = "spring guy, Robert"
claims"reports" = anagram ("absurd") of [MIRACLES minus RE ("without ReliablE cover")]
scariest"most disturbing" = SIEST[A] ("rest") minus last letter ("short") containing CAR ("in: vehicle")
iambusesABUSES ("beats") after I ("one") containing M ("thousand boring") = "feet"
D'Eaubonne"ecofeminist" = DAUB ("smear") + N ("campaigN ending") in ONE ("a"), with E ("drug") inserted ("admission")
impasseI'M ("author's") + PASSE ("cliche") = "dilemma"
Calliope"an inspiring character" = CALL ("phone") + IO ("moon") + PE ("PhonE home")
courtier[H]URT ("injured") minus H ("commoner's" implying unaspirated) + IE ("that's" = that is), all inside COR ("my!") = "flatterer"
neo"new-age" = ONE ("one") anagrammed ("@6677" being a rebus for "at sixes and sevens"
gunflintGUN ("rev") + F ("Flubs first") + LINT ("fluff") = "piece's part"
satiriseSAT ("posed") + I ("a" implying "one") + RISE ("swell") = "joke cynically"
paucityAU ("local") inside ("joins") PC ("computer") + IT ("tech") + Y ("keY terminal") = "shortage"
chain beltCELT ("Scot") containing ("holds") IN after HA ("laughter before") + B ("Buying first") = "treadmill component"
trottoirRIOT ("protest") + TORT ("wrongdoing") all reversed ("spinning") = "pavement"
deep-laid "devious" = PLAI[N] ("simple") minus last letter ("hardly") contained in DEED ("indeed")
zeroes"roots" = ZEES ("US terminators" i.e. final letters of alphabet) containing ("rooted") OR backwards ("back up")
chair"run meeting" = AI ("robot") in CHR ("character" to coders)
tier"row" = [PRET]TIER ("less ugly") minus first half
DOWN
clicheCLI[P] ("round") minus last letter ("off final") + CHE ("revolutionary") = "old hat"
overqualification"'too good' state" = VO ("narration") backwards ("backing") + EQUAL ("fair") containing R ("right in") + I ("a") + FICTION "story" containing I ("one described")
phrenologistPHREN (sounds like FRIEND ("buddy") minus last letter ("almost")) replacing the first two letters ("leaders") in APOLOGIST ("advocate") = "skull-studier"
contingents"groups" = COUNTING ("combinatorics") + ENTS ("specialists" or ENTs) minus ("sans") U ("solver reportedly" = "you" aloud)
helixHE ("boy") + LIX ("thrashes, noisy" = sounds like LICKS) = "twister"
scum"dregs" = MUCUS ("snot") backwards ("up") minus ("eliciting") U ("loud 'yeugh'")
manufacturability"machine-made potential" = MAN U ("footy team") + F[R]ACTUR[E] ("split") minus last letter ("almost") and minus second letter ("second loss") + ABILITY ("power") at the end ("past")
amie"fancy friend" = A ("i" implying "one") + ME ("myself") containing ("embrace") I ("yours truly")
mountaineersFOUNTAIN ("feature") with F changed to M ("sex-change") + [V]EERS ("lists") minus V ("taking five") = "climbers"
skews"doctors" = 'SCUSE ("pardon me") homophone ("say")
icosahedral"shapely" = LARDE[R] ("pantry") minus last letter ("basically") + HAS ("holds") + O ("nothing") + [A]CI[D] minus outside letters ("limiting"), all reversed ("reflux")
AcuraAC ("ventilation" or air-conditioning) + even letters of ("oddly cleared") sUrReAl = "car company"
loiter"idle" = TOILER ("worker") spoonerised ("to Spooner")
crock"bowl" = ROCK ("swing") after C ("caught in front")
rued"regretted" = RUDE (offensive) homophone ("sounding")
oust"reject" = O ("love", in tennis) + [L]UST ("love") with L ("Labour-leader") removed ("lost")
The answer is: araucaria