The scene is a country manor in nineteenth-century England, where the widow Marryat and her adolescent daughter, Rachel, await the arrival of Sir Tristam Northmoor, a gentleman of clouded origin who had been with their departed husband and father when he died in a far off colonial outpost and who is now the executor of his estate. Sir Tristam proves to be a man of mystery and mesmerizing gaze, who is immediately drawn to Rachel—despite her long-standing commitment to the rather bland but reliable Arthur Loscombe. Ostensibly devoted to establishing a temperance clinic (through largesse from the departed's estate) Sir Tristam is actually more concerned with the exotic and sinister philosophies and potions of the East and a Dracula-like hold over Rachel. Luckily the spell is broken, just in the nick of time, by the redoubtable Vicar Dibdin, whose purity of heart and abiding faith overcome the malevolent force that threatens the serenity of his parishioner's well-ordered world.
A deft and clever re-creation of a Victorian melodrama, which spoofs the conventions of the period with high style and sharp yet subtle humor. An established favorite among the nation's leading repertory and resident theatre companies, this exceptionally imaginative play is now widely available for nonprofessional production. "It's all wonderful fun, but with a density and texture that elevates it beyond parody." —Minneapolis Tribune. "…humorous, melodramatic, satiric, and romantic—an extract of the sweet, florid and sickly potions that flooded nineteenth-century society and literature." —Milwaukee Journal. "It's a butterfly trip through the inner space of nineteenth century society." —Drama-Logue.