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Our play's chief aim has been to take to bitsSeeking a personal annihilation.
Great propositions and their opposites,
See how they work, and let them fight it out,
To point some light on our eternal doubt.
Marat and I both advocated force
But in debate each took a different course.
Both wanted changes, but his views and mine
On using power never could combine.
On the one side, he who thinks our lives
Can be improved by axes and knives,
Or he who, submerged in the imagination,
The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (often shortened to Marat/Sade, for simplicity's sake) is a 1963 play by Peter Weiss which tells the story of, well...the title sort of covers that.
A brilliant play-within-a-play, the principal characters of the Tragedy are played by inmates with various wacky little quirks, ranging from narcolepsy to paranoid schizophrenia. Hilarity Ensues.
Oh, did we mention that this is also a musical?
The film-version, which was made by the Royal Shakespeare Company, is excellent. It can be watched (for the moment) on YouTube.
There is also the 1967 film adaptation, directed by Adrian Mitchell.
- Acting for Two: Sort of. In the prologue, the Herald introduces both the characters and the patients playing them, but blurs the line somewhat--for example, introducing Jacques Roux but not the actor playing him. And throughout the play, the actors slip in and out of 'character' (between the person they're playing, and the person that person is playing).
- Aside Glance
- Aside Comment: Lots of this is done, mostly by the Herald, de Sade, and Marat.
- Author On Board: de Sade is one, literally.
- Axe Crazy: A few of these.
- Bedlam House: Charenton.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In ways you can't even imagine.
- Chewing the Scenery: The main cast are all inmates in an asylum. It goes with the job description.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Again. House full of crazy people.
- Cool People Rebel Against Authority: The film is about The French Revolution. Come on.
- Crapsack World: Oh, so very much.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The title.
- Executive Meddling: One of the few times that this occurs during the actual play.
- Fan Disservice: Marat's skin-lesions, depending on how graphic the production makes these.
- Fourth Wall Psych: Plenty of it.
- Free-Love Future:
What's the point of a re-vo-lution...
general copulation, copulation, copulation, COPULATION!!
- The French Revolution: The play-within-the-play deals with the aftermath of this.
- Fridge Brilliance: Perhaps not intended, but Marat was assassinated in his bathtub, and the play takes place in the bath-house of the asylum.
- Go Among Mad People: It says something about the background-level of Crazy, when the Marquis de Sade is doing this.
- Hannibal Lecture: de Sade has a few of these. Especially his discussion with Marat on the nature of Life and Death, and the nature of Nature.
- Heroic BSOD: Charlotte has one of these. Well, if you see her as the hero. (Also, she's mentally deranged to begin with, so it's not a big jump.)
- Hey, It's That Guy!: de Sade, in the film version, is played by that guy who was the Writer, in A Clockwork Orange.
- Historical Domain Character: All the named characters. Bonus for the fact that de Sade himself is doing this, within the play.
- In and Out of Character: Most of the inmates.
- Interactive Narrator: Both the Herald (in the more usual sense) and de Sade.
- Large Ham: A few, but the Herald gets to really play it up.
- Lawful Stupid: Coulmier. de Sade is clearly playing with him--as are most of the other inmates. They may be crazy, but they're not stupid.
- Madness Mantra: "Freedom!", quite literally.
- Mad Oracle: Jacques Roux.
- Marquis de Sade: Has a starring role.
- Minimalism: The play contains elements of this.
- Monster Clown: The Chorus, in the film at least, are four of these.
- Mood Whiplash: The film has some really shocking moments of these, especially with Charlotte.
- The Musical: Some of the songs were so popular that they were recorded by artists in the 60s.
- And at least one of these has regained popularity today, as part of the Occupy movement.
- Network Executives: Coulmier.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Coulmier.
- Only Sane Man: Marat. Maybe.
Woe to the man who is different, who tries to break down all the barriers. Woe to the man who tries to stretch the imagination of Man. He shall be mocked. He shall be scourged by the blinkered guardians of morality. You wanted enlightenment and warmth and so you studied light and heat. You wondered how forces can be controlled so you studied electricity. You wanted to know what man is for so you asked yourself, "What is this soul this dump for hollow ideals and mangled morals?" You decided that the soul is in the brain, and that it can learn to think--For to you the soul is a practical thing a tool for ruling and mastering life. And you came one day to the Revolution because you saw the most important vision: That our circumstances must be changed fundamentally, and without these changes everything we try to do must fail.—Jacques Roux, speaking about Marat
- Out-of-Character Moment: Several.
- One of the most shocking is during the "Homage to Marat", when they are talking about the French peasants wanting their freedom, and one of the inmates starts weeping and saying "Let us out! We want our freedom!", prompting the rest of them to join in an actual cry for freedom. It's heartrending, because it's so unexpected and so earnest.
- The Pen Is Mightier: Marat wants to prove this. He doesn't.
- Reality Subtext: The Marquis de Sade actually did put on shows with the inmates when he was in Charenton.
- Refuge in Audacity: de Sade does this a few times, but only to shut Coulmier up.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The whole play, but especially the end.
- Room Full of Crazy: In the most literal sense.
- Rousing Speech: Marat makes a few of these
- Rule of Three: Charlotte comes to Marat's door three times. Lampshaded several times.
- Sanity Slippage: Imagine that Sanity is wearing just his socks, and he's stuck out in the middle of a frozen lake which is covered with a layer of oil. That kind of slippage.
- Screwed by the Network: Invoked by the Herald, who mentions that Coulmier has edited certain 'objectionable' parts of the play. And he continues to protest throughout the play.
- Show Within a Show
- Sympathy for the Devil: Whatever you might think of de Sade's writings, Weiss paints a very sympathetic (or at least more philosophical) picture of the man.
- "If I am extreme I am not extreme in the way you are. Against Nature's silence I use action--in the vast indifference, I invent a meaning. I don't watch unmoved; I intervene."
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Marat and de Sade trade these.
- Too Kinky to Torture: He is literally the Trope Namer for this. Of course.
- Villainous Breakdown: Averted. There are lots of breakdowns, but there aren't any clear heroes or villains.
- What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: So, so many things. Especially in the film.
- Word of God: Played with, seeing as the author is literally on board.
- World of Cardboard Speech: de Sade makes a few of the bleakest of these ever written.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: This is discussed in depth, in regards to The French Revolution.