Writers: Doug Wright


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Horror, Drama
Period, Multiple Settings
Time & Place
The Charenton Asylum, France, 1807
Cast Size
Ideal for
Mature Audiences, Mostly Male Cast, Regional Theatre, Professional Theatre
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes adult, late teen, young adult, mature adult characters


The Charenton Asylum houses one of France’s most notorious criminals, locked away for his acts of sexual cruelty and sadomasochistic pornography. The new Chief Physician, Doctor Royer-Collard, is determined to tighten his grip on the asylum and the infamous Marquis de Sade is at the top of his list. Renee Palgie, the Marquis’ wife is also furious that her husband is still penning licentious stories which are being smuggled out and continuing to scandalize society. Royer-Collard forces the asylum’s minister, the Abbe de Coulmier, to adopt increasingly violent ways of restraining the wily Marquis. After his paper and quills are confiscated, the ever-resourceful Marquis pens his stories on his bedclothes first in wine, then blood, and finally much worse. Torn between the demands of Royer-Collard and the Marquis’ machinations, the Abbe strips both the Marquis and his cell. However, nothing will stop the Marquis and he takes to whispering his stories from lunatic to lunatic, until young seamstress Madeleine can write them down. But Madeleine’s actions seal her fate as the final madman in whose cell Madeleine waits, brutally mutilates and kills the young woman. With the inmates rioting and few options left, the Abbe is driven to removing the Marquis’ hands, feet, genitals, and, finally, his head. Such actions send the Abbe down his own path to madness and the now murderous and deviant minister becomes the next inmate of the asylum. However, has he truly silenced the Marquis?

Lead Characters

Quills guide sections