“The Master and the Magician,” is a romp, a farce, a hotchpot of mistaken identity, physical buffoonery, vulgarity, rhymed couplets, alliterations and word play (e.g. “I must snare this hare before she becomes rabidly aware.”): a fractured fairy tale for adults which culminates in an increasingly frenetic, farcical series of reversals.
Story-wise, the premise of this play is that a magician (Merchand) is dying – both young before his time and childless from an unnamed scourge. He spies out a possible apprentice / heir (Kavernia), and begins her tutelage – however without her knowledge. For she is the lady-in-waiting to one of the four Lovers.
These Lovers will secretly serve as the magician’s textbook for Kavernia, but overtly they will be the players in one last “game” of hearts between the Merchand and a trickster spirit (Glimm), a Puck-like sprite who is both the Magician’s familiar and antagonist – in essence this titular master is a personified fate figure.
The game itself is superficially similar to Puck’s usury of the lovers in “Midsummer Nights’ Dream”, however rather than arbitrarily changing the affection of one lover for the other, in my play the Lovers’ romantic desires (initially) stay the same. But, their souls are placed into each other’s bodies, i.e., via a magical body swap, somewhat similar to the device used in “Prelude to a Kiss” and in numerous science fiction stories.
Therefore, it is key that the magical characters in this play do not have power over the common mortals’ spirits; thus free will is maintained.
The Lovers are not mere puppets to manipulate, but rather the Lovers still make their own choices – albeit within the new given circumstances of changed class, sex and position, as well as physical abilities which their new bodies present them with. Thus the privileged must deal with becoming non-privileged, masculinity with femininity and love with different masks… and vice versa.