A play, Marxist in it's tone, in that it stands unequivocally for revolutionary change. The setting for this is Charenton, a mental asylum where the Marquis De Sade directs a play he has written, with his fellow patients, about the French revolution, for the public. De Sade was indeed held at Charenton, and plays for the public, by lunatics, were popular fare. In the play within the play, we meet famous French revolutionary figures such as Jean-Paul Marat, the former priest and radical socialist Jacques Roux and Charlotte Corday, Marat's assassin. A Herald plays the role of a narrator and four singers provide political interludes. De sade and Marat engage in philosophical discussion about life, death and the nature of man.In addition to their roles, the inmates are dealing with their own conditions; Marat is a paranoic, Corday, a depressive with sleeping sickness and Duperret, a sex maniac for instance. Monsieur Culmier, the director of the asylum, greets us a
s the audience of the time, making us complicit with the action. The events then unfold with occasional protests from Coulmier as to the content of the piece. Charlotte Corday stabs Marat in his bath as per the history books and Coulmier tells us such things as the revolution do not happen today, just before the inmates rebel. As Coulmier and his staff put down the uprising (with extreme violence), the curtain comes down.