Zastrozzi, The Master of Discipline

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Zastrozzi, The Master of Discipline is a play by Canadian playwright George F. Walker first produced at Toronto Free Theatre in 1977. It is loosely based upon the 1810 novel Zastrozzi: A Romance by Percy Bysshe Shelley.[1]

Plot and Characters[edit]

The major characters and the plot of the play are nearly identical with the 1810 novel Zastrozzi by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

The play is set in 1893. Zastrozzi, the master criminal of all Europe and a self-proclaimed atheist, like the character in the 1810 novel and Shelley himself, has focused for nearly three years on the pursuit of revenge against the murderer of his mother, the whimsical, unconstant, and delusively God-obsessed artiste Verezzi. In the Shelley novel, Zastrozzi's mother Olivia is seduced and impregnated by Verezzi's father when she was fifteen, Zastrozzi is the illegitimate son, Verezzi is his half-brother and Olivia dies at thirty in poverty and abandoned, demanding that Zastrozzi avenge her. In both the novel and the play, Zastrozzi, with the help of his heartless protégé Bernardo and his sometime lover the seductress Matilda, chases Verezzi to a small town in the Italian countryside and engineers an elaborate plot to destroy his enemy. But while Verezzi may be an easy target, his tutor Victor, a former priest, presents a much more difficult challenge for Zastrozzi.

The play retains all the major characters of the Percy Bysshe Shelley 1810 novel: Zastrozzi, Verezzi, Julia, Matilda, Bernardo, and the Priest. The plot is the same in both works. Zastrozzi seeks to avenge his mother and blames Verezzi for her seduction, abandonment, and death. Matilda serves the same role in both works. The Shelley novel and the play both take place in Italy.

The same themes are addressed in both works: Atheism, revenge, the ethical and moral debates and issues relating to retribution.


The play has had several revivals, including one in the 2009 season of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival at the Studio Theatre. It was directed by Jennifer Tarver and starred Rick Roberts as "Zastrozzi", Oliver Becker as "Bernardo", Sarah Orenstein as "Matilda", John Vickery as "Victor", Andrew Shaver as "Verazzi" and Amanda Lisman as "Julia".[2]


  1. ^ Johnson, Chris (Fall 1988). "GEORGE F WALKER DIRECTS GEORGE F WALKER". Theatre Research in Canada. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
  2. ^ "Zastrozzi" (pdf). Stratford Shakespeare Festival. 2009.  -house program

External links[edit]