The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (often shortened to Marat/Sade, for simplicity's sake) is a 1963 play by Peter Weiss which tells the story of, well...the title sort of covers that.A brilliant play-within-a-play, the principal characters of the Tragedy are played by inmates with various wacky little quirks, ranging from narcolepsy to paranoid schizophrenia. Hilarity Ensues.Oh, did we mention that this is also a musical?The film-version, which was made by the Royal Shakespeare Company, is excellent. It can be watched (for the moment) on YouTube.There is also the 1967 film adaptation, directed by Adrian Mitchell.
"The tropes of the asylum at Charenton":
Acting for Two: Sort of. In the prologue, the Herald introduces both the characters and the patients playing them, but blurs the line somewhat—for example, introducing Jacques Roux but not the actor playing him. And throughout the play, the actors slip in and out of 'character' (between the person they're playing, and the person that person is playing).
Woe to the man who is different, who tries to break down all the barriers. Woe to the man who tries to stretch the imagination of Man. He shall be mocked. He shall be scourged by the blinkered guardians of morality. You wanted enlightenment and warmth and so you studied light and heat. You wondered how forces can be controlled so you studied electricity. You wanted to know what man is for so you asked yourself, "What is this soul this dump for hollow ideals and mangled morals?" You decided that the soul is in the brain, and that it can learn to think—For to you the soul is a practical thing a tool for ruling and mastering life. And you came one day to the Revolution because you saw the most important vision: That our circumstances must be changed fundamentally, and without these changes everything we try to do must fail.
One of the most shocking is during the "Homage to Marat", when they are talking about the French peasants wanting their freedom, and one of the inmates starts weeping and saying "Let us out! We want our freedom!", prompting the rest of them to join in an actual cry for freedom. It's heartrending, because it's so unexpected and so earnest.