Fabulously wealthy and spectacularly eccentric, William Beckford (1759-1844) produced his glittering gothic masterpiece The History of Caliph Vathek at the age of 22.

With rare empathy for the world of Islam, Beckford charts the operatic decline of his Faustus-like anti-hero literally from the summit of his gigantic tower on the fabled site of Babel to the appalling subterranean halls of the fallen angel Eblis and eternal damnation.

Urged on by his appalling mother Carathis, and pawn to the terrible, bloodthirsty demon Giaour, Vathek’s ambition, greed, vanity, lust, blasphemy and sensual excess drive his epic journey to disaster.

This fast-paced adaptation offers a fear and wonder-filled showcase for bravura performance, bold direction, shrewdly sumptuous design, puppetry, trickery, dazzling light, dance and wild theatricality.

  • epic gothic romance
  • 130
  • 0 total
  • culturally and linguistically diverse
  • 18+
  • all ages, children, teen
  • Australian Script Centre


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Male | Unspecified | 3 to 5 minutes
Starts on page 2

EXTRACT: Curious to penetrate the secrets of Heaven, Vathek caused a great tower to be raised and from his abode in the seventh heaven the great prophet Mahomet, whose vicars the caliphs are, beheld the irreligious conduct of such a vicegerent. "Leave him to himself," said Mahomet to the genii6, "let us see to what lengths his folly and impiety carry him; if he run into excess we shall know how to chastise him."


Male | Unspecified | under 3 minutes
Starts on page 18

EXTRACT: Arrayed in robes worn only in the most distinguished ceremonials, and supported by his Vizir and Bababalouk, the Caliph took his place. Threaded through the unison of ceremonial instruments, Carathis sang her direful orisons to the Giaour whilst good Mussulmans prayed forgiveness and importuned Vathek to beware how he ventured his sacred person./ Entire silence fell . . . and the expedition commenced.

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