THE FREAK!
A Play about the "Sleeping
Psychic" Edgar Cayce



Click on any of the images on this
page to see the larger version.

ACT ONE:
The time is 1911. Edgar Cayce is a young man with incredible psychic powers. He can "see" into other people's bodies and tell them, in trance or "reading," exactly what is wrong with them and how to cure it. Unfortunately for Edgar, these are powers he does not want. He wants is to be "normal"-not "the freak" his neighbors call him. And, as a Christian, he definitely does not want to "play God" the way these powers seem to suggest.

Edgar shows Gertrude how to "bring the positive out of the negative - by shinin' a light through it."

His wife, Gertrude, wants him to do something with this gift from God, as do his father, and Charlie Dietrich, a schoolteacher whose daughter Edgar had saved with a reading. They persuade Edgar to give a demonstration of his powers for the local medical establishment: if he gets their backing, Edgar will agree to perform his "cures."

At the demonstration reading, the doctors treat Edgar as some sort of human guinea pig, sticking him with needles and carving under his fingernail. Edgar, railing at having been treated as some sideshow freak, vows never to use his powers again.

ACT TWO:
This vow is immediately put to the test when Edgar's son, Milton, develops a mysterious and life-threatening illness. Edgar won't go so far as to do a reading on Milton; in fact, he seems to be avoiding contact with his new son. Under pressure from his wife and father, however, he agrees to set up a business with Dr. Ketchum, a local homeopath who has witnessed the failed demonstration, to explore ways to help people with their medical problems. Without Edgar's permission, however, Dr. Ketchum gives a talk to a medical group in Boston. Reporters flock to Hopkinsville, Kentucky to see the "freak." They arrive just as Gertrude has finally persuaded Edgar to at least take a look at Milton. When Milton dies without Edgar's doing a reading, Edgar is forced to reveal that he saw a "death aura" around Milton when carrying him home from the hospital: he thought doing a reading would be useless or, worse, would make him the instrument of his son's death.
Gertrude needlepoints her "Carpe Diem"
pillow for her expected baby.

ACT THREE:
Gertrude has given up on life and is dying of tuberculosis. Only Edgar can save her. But the reading for Gertrude recommends heroin, an extreme remedy that might, in fact, kill her. Worse, no doctor in town will write out the prescription. Edgar is forced to plead with Dr. Ketchum, whom he swore never to see again, to help him save his wife's life. Ketchum writes the prescription. Now Edgar must convince Gertrude to take it. His acknowledgment of his fears and acceptance of his powers finally win Gertrude back to life. She takes the medicine… and "The Freak" goes on to become the father of the holistic medicine so widely practiced today.

 

Cast: 7 male, 1 female

Place/Time: Hopkinsville, Kentucky, 1910-11.

Settings:

  • The office of Dr. Ketchum
  • The Cayce Home
  • A Sunday School classroom (limbo)
  • A racetrack (limbo).

Published by Samuel French, Inc., New York City.

 

Pictured above, THE FREAK directed by Granville Burgess at the Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, SC - the playwright's home town. The man on the right is the writer/director's father.

 

To the left, a playbill from the New Playwrights' Theater.
Click on the image to see a larger picture.

 

Below, playbill from the Douglas Fairbanks Theater