Doug Wright’s decorated drama, QUILLS, about the Marquis de Sade and his tormentors, is getting a thorough going over by Bad Habit Productions (at the Cambridge Y through August 8th). Wright’s clever diatribe on the nature of evil doers doing what they do “in the name of goodness” takes a heck of a long time to get somewhere. When it does, in Act II, and especially at the surreal ending, it’s worth the torturous route.
The men fare better than the women in director Daniel Morris’ production––mostly because the Y space is cavernous and the female voice tends to be swallowed up so a good deal of the dialogue doesn’t reach the audience under the balcony overhang. Happily, Timothy Otte and Eric Hamel as the philosophical duelists, have strong voices––and even stronger acting skills. Otte’s tour de force as the joyously self-obsessed de Sade is reason alone to see the play. Hamel as his (self) righteous nemesis gives a chilling performance as we witness the monstrous cost of a cure.
QUILLS is not a play for the faint of heart as the playwright parades horror after horror before us, heaping cruelty upon cruelty to make his point. Kudos to Bad Habit Productions for taking on such a daunting drama.