THE STORY: Doctor Royer-Collard, head of Charenton Asylum, is visited by Renee Pelagie, wife of the asylum’s most notorious inmate, the Marquis de Sade. Furious that her husband’s sadomasochistic pornography has tarnished her reputation, she offers the Doctor any amount of money, if only her husband can be kept from writing. After confiscating the Marquis’ quills and paper, the Abbe de Coulmier is surprised to find lascivious new stories circulating in public. The source? A lusty young seamstress named Madeleine has been smuggling material out of the asylum. Immediately, the Abbe bars the girl from seeing the Marquis, but ever resourceful, the Marquis pens his stories on his bedclothes in wine, blood and worse. Driven to a fury, the Abbe strips bare the Marquis and his cell, leaving nothing but stone and straw. Undaunted, the Marquis devises a fantastic plan to whisper his stories from lunatic to lunatic, until Madeleine can pen them down—but the last lunatic, in whose cell Madeleine crouches, mutilates and kills the girl in response to the Marquis’ grisly tale. A riot ensues, nearly destroying the asylum, and as the second act unfolds, the Abbe is driven to increasingly desperate acts to silence the Marquis: the removal of his hands, feet, genitals and eventually his beheading. Wracked by guilt, the once humane but now murderous and sexually deviant Abbe is committed to his own asylum where he finds himself crying out for a paper and pen with which to record his own newly arisen perversions. In the last scene, the boxes containing the body parts of the Marquis tremble with pleasure. One hand snakes loose from its box…and begins to write.
Winner of an Obie Award. “…Doug Wright’s raffish new comedy, part theater of the ridiculous, part comedy of manners and part Grand Guignol, successfully blends intentional archness, grotesque exaggeration and bold humor to create a theatrical experience of real wit.” —NY Times. “Exuberant theater-making…gory, depraved, revolting and—uh-oh—sentimental. On top of all that, the play has something to say about censorship and what happens when you try to suppress art…Smirky, gross-out fun with a purpose. It’s an amazing show.” —Variety. “Cunningly structured and gorgeously written, with every phrase turned to a high, gleaming polish. Quills is a superb piece of writing.” —Village Voice.