Players in a Gameby Dale Wasserman
Humane and witty, and appreciative of the pleasures of the flesh and the table, the Bishop of fourteenth-century Prague casts a tolerant eye on the sinful excesses of his rich and self-indulgent parishioners�much to the displeasure of the Pope, then situated in Avignon, France. Bedeviled by gout, the Bishop is especially taken with Richard the Healer, a charming rascal who is notorious for his gambling and wenching but who is the only one able to ease the Bishop's discomfort. Richard also captures the somewhat ambivalent attention of Anna Sarban, an icily beautiful highborn lady who righteously (and perhaps jealously) denounces him to the Grand Inquisitor, Jean Charlier, a sinister young Dominican priest whom the Pope has dispatched to Prague to enforce the ban he has placed on the corrupt Bishop. But Anna's desire for vengeance leads to perilous complications when a group of bumbling dice players and whores (who claim they are only meeting to join in prayer) are also drawn into the Grand Inquisitor's web and, despite Anna's last minute offer to sacrifice herself in their stead, are condemned to be burned at the stake. Angry at this invasion of his authority and determined to gain their release, the Bishop confronts the wily Grand Inquisitor in a gripping, brilliantly constructed scene in which two master strategists maneuver for advantage, ultimately striking a cynical bargain in which the Bishop, suddenly faced with the threatened loss of his own position, accepts the sacrifice of the condemned "sinners" in order to spare himself, Richard, and the others of his flock for whom the loss of privilege and pleasure would be a burden too onerous to bear.
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