Part I, TORQUEMADA, takes place in 1490, in the middle of questioning by the Grand Inquisitor of Spain, Archbishop Tomas de Torquemada, and his two assistants, Brother Puyal and Bishop Acero. This day, the most ordinary of "crimes" —angrily calling out the names of devils when catching her husband in an affair—brings in Francisca Mendez and her husband, Fosco, to be questioned, tortured and questioned again. Despite his frailty, the Grand Inquisitor probes into the couples' life, finding grander infidelities in the past involving a young monk who turns out to be Brother Puyal. At the time of Puyal's indiscretion with Francisca, the Abbot in the monastery where Puyal lived was Escobedo de la Aixa, now deceased. The Grand Inquisitor reminds those gathered of his power, and at the end we learn the very gruesome fates of each of the characters, including Abbot Escobedo de la Aixa, whose body was dug up and dismembered. Part II, ANNA REY, takes place in 1992, in the office of psychiatrist Dr. Anna Rey who is writing a book on the Spanish treatment of the insane in a monastery at the end of the fifteenth century. The monastery was run by Abbot Escobedo de le Aixa, whose philosophy was to unchain the insane and treat them warmly. Alone in his theory, the monks working with him admired him and saw results in the madmen sent there. Dr. Rey does not see patients anymore, believing herself unfit to heal, and considers suicide as a way out of her own state of depression, when she is suddenly visited by Bradley Smith, a mental patient from a nearby hospital, who implores her help. Dr. Rey employs psychiatric techniques with Bradley, and though wanting him to leave, is intrigued by his lies, his life and his obvious pain. When Bradley reveals a knife he was going to use on himself, Dr. Rey shows him a bigger one and invites him to do away with her too. In the end, Dr. Rey convinces Bradley to go to a hospital and promises to be the Doctor he sees every day. Both have painfully turned back to life and to the struggle to continue. Part III, ESCOBEDO DE LA AIXA, takes us to 1480, ten years before the play began, in the garden of the Abbey of Ripal, where Abbot Escobedo de la Aixa walks with a madman who thinks he is God. The Abbot must prove to the madman that he is indeed the Abbot, so that the madman will feel comfortable speaking freely. After the madman is satisfied, the two talk over what the madman, as God, should do. They joke, listen to birds and enjoy the garden. The madman says the Inquisition means to stop the Abbot's humane treatment of the insane. They talk lucidly of reality—which will kill them both—and the Abbot breaks down in despair. The madman tells him that someone somewhere will remember the good Abbot who lived in Spain, loving madmen. The madman will wait for the Abbot in heaven.
Questions of guilt, responsibility, fate and friendship pervade these beautiful plays, tied together by the love and faith of a progressive Abbot from another time. "…SPAIN…commands our attention and offers a probative look at crises of conscience." —NY Times.