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A Drama in Shakespearean Verse





In a present-day fictional duchy, a corrupt and self-interested ruling family abuses its power and seeks its private ends through sexual extortion, deception, and tyranny. The despotic and perverse Duke Arnaud and his daughter, the beautiful, influential, incestuous Contessa, subvert the law to prosecute the duke’s grieving widowed daughter-in-law, Lady Martine, because she will not yield to Arnaud’s sexual bidding, even when he withholds her inheritance from her late husband. Martine’s brother supplies her with an attorney, but despite his counsel, her own volatile temperament confounds her defense. With Contessa’s connivance and urging, and by intimidating a weak judge, Arnaud holds a sham hearing and trial in which he bends the law to his own will in order to coerce and punish Martine.



ARNAUD:  The Duke, “a man of three-score years,” ruler of a fictional, feudal duchy, father of Pascal and father-in law of Martine.


MARTINE:  Lady Martine de Luc, grieving widow of Pascal de Luc, in the prime of her life.


CONTESSA: Daughter of Duke Arnaud, in her late 20s, vivacious, conniving, and unscrupulous.


DUPLASS:  Brother of Lady Martine, about Martine’s age, supportive of her resistance to Arnaud.


LACOSTE:  Attorney, friend of Duplass, “of very reverend reputation; witty, courteous, liberal, full of spirit; stuffed with all honorable virtues.”


BALTHUS:  Lord Chief Justice, elderly, “a slight unmeritable man,” who can be “taught and train’d and bid go forth.”

Excerpts from The Obscure Bird                                     ACT I, Scene 1                                    ACT I, Scene 2                 

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