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Bad Seed

Bad Seed
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: William March
Adapted by: Maxwell Anderson
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 84
Pub. Date: 1956
ISBN-10: 0822200880
ISBN-13: 9780822200888
Cast Size: 4 female, 4 male, 1 small girl

About the Play:

Bad Seed was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1955

Bad Seed is a full-length thriller adapted for the stage by Maxwell Anderson, from the novel of the same name by William March. Rhoda is a seemingly perfect little girl who is able to charm her way into getting just about anything she wants. However, her mother, begins to suspect that Rhoda had something to do with a hideous accident that happened on a school trip. Is Rhoda the good girl her parents thought she was, or is she truly a Bad Seed? Especially recommended for school and contest use.

Bad Seed is a classic noir thriller set in the 1950s. It's not so much a whodunit as a why-did-they-do-it? Christine and Colonel Kenneth Penmark are living in a small Southern town, enjoying a quiet and peaceful life with their daughter, Rhoda. Little Rhoda is a perfectly-dressed, pigtailed eight-year-old cherub with a few nasty habits, like lying, cheating, theft and more. The story examines the question of whether a tendency to criminality is inherited, or is acquired from exposure to an unsavoury environment, usually a dysfunctional community. In the course of the story, Rhoda's mother, Christine must come to terms with the fact that her daughter may have murdered a little classmate all because he beat her out for the school's coveted penmanship medal. Rhoda lies and twists the truth even when confronted after her mother discovers the penmanship award hidden away in Rhoda's treasure box. Her mother is forced to face the notion that even in a so-called good family, evil can still grow. And the reason for this evil shocks Christine, for it concerns her own special heritage and sparks a heated debate. These are the questions that Bad Seed tackles in a frightening and memorable fashion.

One of Broadway's outstanding hits, Bad Seed has had tremendous success in three genres. It began as a 1954 novel by William March that sold a million copies in its first year while winning critical acclaim. It opened on Broadway at the Forty-Sixth Street Theatre (now Richard Rodgers Theatre) late in 1954 and spawned the 1956 cult film. It was shortlisted for the 1955 Pulitzer Prize for Drama (eventually losing to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof). This scene study staple remains a popular choice for college, high school, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 4 female, 4 male, 1 small girl

What people say:

"Written with reserve and skill...an extraordinary literate horror story and a superior bit of theatre...a shattering story." — The New York Times

"It is solely and honestly meant to entertain…As purely purposeful diversion it ranks with 'Dracula' and sometimes sets your spine to as much tingling…chilling." — New York Telegram

"...a double-decker rouser – a sock melodrama and an absorbing study in crime. The second act affords an absorbing crescendo. Either as a thriller or a unique assertion of the heredity versus environment question, Bad Seed will absorb you. There's a single word for this play: Wow." — Washington Post & Times-Herald

"...an anguished mother tries to cope with the painful discovery that her perfectly-behaved eight-year-old may be a sociopath capable of cold-blooded murder.... The chills ... don't stop even after the curtain falls." — The Cleveland Plain Dealer

About the Playwright:

Maxwell Anderson (1888-1956) was an award-winning American playwright and screenwriter. Best known for his Hollywood screen adaptations of his own plays including Key Largo, and Mary of Scotland, he was the most successful playwright of his time and most of his plays, including Mary of Scotland, enjoyed long runs on Broadway. Both Your Houses won the Pulitzer Prize and Winterset and Mary of Scotland won coveted Drama League Awards.

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