Men of Tortuga

by  Jason Wells

Full Length Play, Dark Comedy  /  5m

"Jason Wells isn't giving everything away in his captivating new play Men of Tortuga. In addressing some serious contemporary issues, he creates a scenario where the audience has only a rough idea of what's going on. And that's just about th…

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Men of Tortuga

by  Jason Wells

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

  • Duration


    90 minutes
  • SubGenre


  • Accolades


    Not Applicable
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult

Additional Info

Four men conspire to defeat a despised opponent by firing a missile into a crowded conference room on the day of an important meeting. Maxwell, a hero of the old guard, volunteers to sacrifice himself for the plan. Then Maxwell meets Fletcher, an idealist with a "Compromise Proposal" designed to resolve all conflicts. Maxwell regards the Compromise as hopeless, but he develops a liking for Fletcher - a distressing fact when Maxwell learns that, if the conspiracy proceeds, young Fletcher will be among the dead.

As the scheme spins wildly into complication, the plotters descend into suspicion, bloodlust, and raucous infighting; while Fletcher is drawn, inexorably, into the lions' den.
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"Jason Wells isn't giving everything away in his captivating new play Men of Tortuga. In addressing some serious contemporary issues, he creates a scenario where the audience has only a rough idea of what's going on. And that's just about the way it should be. In a crackling world premiere at the Asolo Repertory Theater, Wells tells a story of corporate greed, power, surveillance and the secrecy that increasingly pervades our daily lives. Wells and the Asolo cast grab the audience from the start...The play pulses with energy..." -Variety

"Calling all corporate conspiracy theorists: Jason Wells has written a play confirming everything you've ever wanted to believe about what goes on behind the frosted windows and code-locked doors of America's executive suites...ripping, blacker-than-black satire...Wells' work, though almost blank in details, carefully exposes the barbarism encoded in corporate bureaucracy. With a grand sense of humor about misinterpreted metaphors and think-tank buzz language – he eats our bread' refers to someone you can trust – Tortuga gives us absurd savages in suits, drinking good bourbon and plotting destruction... Eat their bread." - Time Out Chicago

"Consider an interlude in Jason Wells' Men of Tortuga, a tale of global politics, male power games and moral ambiguity that is in many ways the [Steppenwolf First Look] festival's most dazzling and provocative play...When, [the actors] put the final beat on a particularly brilliant scene, there was no stopping the burst of applause. Not only did this crackling exchange work on a slew of levels at once – with matters of ethics, careermaking, legacymaking, ego-massaging, cutthroat cross-generation competition and hints of father-son tensions all being juggled, but the actors attacked the material as if they were playing virtuoso dueling violins. The rhythms, the emotional shadings, the teasing tones, the mix of respect and defensiveness were all so superbly calibrated that they generated a sensation of sheer giddiness....Wells' play happens to be a shrewd piece of gamesmanship that blends a bit of Mamet and his corrosive comedy with a touch of Kafka and Joseph Conrad, plus a splash of high entertainment. It's tailor-made for the age of terrorism, assassination, and corrupt global organizations...with writing and acting this smart and this sharp, it never fails to hit its target....hard-driving, blackly comic, relentlessly macho... [A] 100-minute head game filled with vacuum-packed scenes...Wells has crafted a taut, cleverly orchestrated piece about power, personal psychosis, game-playing, morality and the terror of failure...a sharp parable for our time." -Chicago Sun-Times

"...Gripping...You'll be hearing more about Men of Tortuga, a blistering new play about corporate and government malfeasance from a Chicago actor named Jason Wells (who turned in the best piece of writing all year from a playwright.)...On one level, Jason Wells' elliptical drama Men of Tortuga is a genre-based thriller a la James Bond or Quentin Tarantino. But Wells is sufficiently skilled to dig deeper than that....taut sophistication...It’s a thriller and it’s thrilling." -Chicago Tribune

"...a highly original work...some of the sharpest humor you will see this season...both entertaining and thought-provoking....a must-see." -

"...distinguishing itself from its genre [not just] by the author's concise skewering of fundamentally humane civil servants' progress from metaphorical warfare to primitive tribalism, but also through his clever employment of stichomythic dialogue delivered at Mametian warp-speed." - Windy City Times

"...the testosterone-rich quintet ripping apart the stage (literally) in Men of Tortuga makes the lads of Glengarry Glen Ross look like delicate hothouse flowers...brutally hilarious thriller...this twisted tale escalates to deliriously wonderful heights of violence and absurdity....Wells parcels out the story sparingly, keeping the audience on a need-to-know basis. It's a method that works perfectly in creating an environment that's at once profoundly ominous and patently ridiculous." -

“… Dark but hilarious comedy, as well as subtle political commentary... Very, very entertaining.” - Breadenton Herald

“… Grimly comical … Wells delights in language and in the thrust and parry of complex dialogue … It’s very involving theatre …” -


Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Reader's Theatre
  • Shoestring Budget
  • Large Stage
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


  • Caution Alcohol Alcohol
  • Caution Strong Language Strong Language

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $90 per performance



  • Time Period: Contemporary, Present Day, New Millennium/21st Century
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Setting: A meeting room.

    An office.

    An anteroom.

  • Additional Features: No intermission, Stage Combat
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes


  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)



TOM AVERY - 50s or 60s. Subscribes to a benign, somewhat detached managerial style; but may have hidden reserves of ferocity.
TAGGART - 40s. Self-taught military scholar. His self-confidence and sense of authority are convincing for a while, but may not withstand scrutiny.
JEFF KLING - 45-55. Aggressive and excitable, sure, but it's worked for him so far.
KIT MAXWELL - 70s. A stern, old-fashioned aristocrat. A long, cynical life has made him sullen and insular.
ALLAN FLETCHER - 25-35. Smart, dedicated, and very polite. But then, he's selling something.

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Cast Attributes

  • All Male
  • Ensemble cast
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)


Available Services



Jason Wells

Jason Wells’s first play, "Men of Tortuga," debuted at Steppenwolf Theatre's First Look Repertory of New Work and had its official premiere at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota. Jason’s second play, "Perfect Mendacity," was a commission from Manhattan Theatre Club and the Sloan Foundation. Like "Men of Tortuga," ...

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Men of Tortuga was first presented at Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, on November, 17, 2006. It was directed by Greg Leaming.

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