Bathory: Deception in a Face

"But man; make me not this fallen race, so like th'Divine in form, so like Levaithan in action." Sarah Liz Bell as Katalin. Lighting by Benjamin Dionysus. Costumes by Delena Bradley. Photo by iNDie Grant Productions

“But man / Make me not this fallen Race, so like th’Divine / In Form, so like Levaithan in Action.” Sarah Liz Bell as Katalin. Lighting by Benjamin Dionysus. Costumes by Delena Bradley. Photo by iNDie Grant Productions

A lot happens in Act 4, Scene 2 of Countess Bathory. The playwright (me) perhaps demands a bit much of the audience by introducing a new character in the second-to-last scene, but in Katalin we see the thesis of the play in little. Aside from representing the continuance of the cycle of abuse, Katalin has two monologs, both of which describe the deceptive nature of appearances. In essence, she says not all ugly things are evil and not all beautiful things are good. It’s a message we hear all the time, but I feel that we (me especially) still need to hear, over and over.

“O wretch, thou art deception in a face,
For thy foul form did make me think a Devil
Of thee, but kindness like the holy Angels
Fonts out from hideous accoutrements.
A Pearl is hous’d in hard ridg’d shells, that time
And muscle must prize out, and so thy Soul,
As shining as the glorious Sun, is prized
Without the hard exterior tonight.”

This speech is also one of several times that Kate’s face is compared to rock, shell, and other solid things. While this can be an obvious commentary on the scabs and scars on her face, it is also an appropriate description of the character who most often keeps her thoughts to herself.

But Katalin doesn’t just remark on the dulpicity of beauty: she asks to be excused from a world where such dishonesty thrives. Not only is the most powerful and most beautiful woman in the world the seat of evil, but the King himself seems blithely unconcerned about her actions. Katalin asks God (or whoever will listen) to remove her from the human race, the only species that can choose mercy and yet so consistently does not.

“Devils! Devils! Devils! Devils! Devils!
What craggy and ensmoldered world is this
That birth and thriveth such Monstrosities?
What King will take my will away for her
Who here perverts the Nature of our land,
And turneth full luxurious against
A Woman’s ken? What creature bathes in blood?
What Parasite would feed upon her kin?
The Tiger’s dam will not consume her litter,
But what the lowest Beasts will not dare do,
She doth. Our King permits. Our King permits.
O Lord make me a weavil that bores into
The flesh of innocents. Make me a Wolf
That overpowers and devours the Lamb,
Or any wicked thing that Nature proves,
And I would call thee generous. But man,
Make me not this fallen Race, so like th’ Divine
In Form, so like Leviathan in Action.
O make me not Mankind, o Lord, and I
Will count my blessings greater than the Sky.”

After failing to give Katalin what she wants, Kate elects to go one further and actively escape the “civil jungle” of Hungary with her heart-rending “Kill my dreams” speech.

COUNTESS BATHORY is back, tonight and tomorrow. Reservations are full, but walkups are welcome.

June 9 – 25
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30pm
4001 N Ravenswood Ave, Ste 405


Countess Bathory, Playwright, Theater Stuff

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