Body Snatcher


Body Snatcher
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With the help of two childhood friends, a medical student accepts a job working for a prominent doctor, but gruesome tasks and unspeakable horrors await her when she arrives at the lab.

Schools: This play is ambitious for schools. Some material may be objectionable, and some students (and parents) may be sensitive to central themes and elements within.


At the University of Edinburgh during the 19th century, Mary Fettes enters a pub and meets her friend Jane Galbraith for a drink. Jane, the daughter of the University president, has used her influence covertly to secure Mary an interview with the prominent Dr. Robert Knox. The interview went well, and the women start to celebrate, when Wolfe McFarlane joins them. Wolfe, who grew up with the women, currently works as Dr. Knox’s assistant and informs them that the doctor wants to meet with Mary right away. Before departing, Jane informs Mary and Wolfe that she wants to hear about the meeting when she returns from a trip to Glasgow. Wolfe, who carries a torch for Jane, protests her taking the trip. Jane insists they discuss the matter later over dinner. Wolfe relents and leaves to deliver Mary to Dr. Knox.

In his garden, Dr. Knox receives Mary and informs her that he is impressed with the research she completed on her own and that she reminds him of her late older brother, who was also one of his students. Dr. Knox offers Mary the opportunity to work in his lab on a trial basis. She accepts, and he instructs Wolfe to take her to the lab and get her oriented for the night’s work.

Wolfe leads Mary to the lab, shows her around, and relays her assignments: to receive deceased prisoners who die in jail and whose bodies are delivered during the night, and to dissect them, processing the body parts for examination. She is given a coffer of silver with which to pay for the delivery of the bodies. After the orientation, Mary and Wolfe reminisce about growing up together and remember her brother, who was a good friend of Wolfe’s, as well as Dr. Knox’s former student. Wolfe then leaves to rejoin Jane.

Later in the night, a Uniformed Man delivers the first cadaver in a body bag to the lab. After depositing the body, the Man accosts Mary and threatens to rape her. Mary defends herself, but the Man disarms her and subsequently steals the money from the coffer before leaving. After he leaves, Mary breaks down. When Wolfe returns to check on her, he learns of her traumatic experience with the Man and offers to process the cadavers that night, promising to increase security for her safety. Mary thanks Wolfe and starts to leave, when she trips over the body bag and the head of Jane Galbraith rolls out. Just as the shocked Mary and Wolfe get the head back into the bag, Dr. Knox surprises them by arriving with instructions to go to Glencorse Mausoleum that night and retrieve the remains of a gentleman who recently passed away. With these new orders, Mary and Wolfe leave for the Mausoleum.

Upon arriving at Glencorse Mausoleum, Wolfe and Mary enter the building and see the coffin containing the dead man. They light candles and proceed forward. As they approach the coffin, the candles go out and Wolfe begins to hear a nickname Jane used for him being called out in the darkness. Mary cannot hear the voice and doesn’t understand why Wolfe is agitated. Wolfe lights a candle, and suddenly the bloody image of Jane appears in the light. Wolfe screams, and when Mary asks him what’s wrong, he confesses to Mary that he murdered Jane in a jealous rage because she had planned to visit a lover in Glasgow. Suddenly, Jane’s image appears to Wolfe again and blows his candle out. In the darkness, his scream is heard, and then silence. When Mary gets another candle lit, she discovers she is alone. Before leaving, she approaches the coffin and pulls out a saw. Blackout.

The next morning, Mary meets Dr. Knox and tells him of Wolfe’s disappearance. She leads him to suspect that Wolfe may have may have run off to Glasgow with Jane and then tells him that the remains from the Glencorse Mausoleum are ready for him in his laboratory. She also suggests that instead of grave robbing, he offer to pay for the bodies of those who pass in the community whose families cannot afford a funeral. Pleased with her work and suggestion, Dr. Knox asks Mary to join him for coffee to discuss.



Mary Fettes – Female, late 20s. An ambitious, if slightly naïve, woman. Scottish accent required.

Jane Galbraith – Female, late 20s-30s. Brazen and calculating. A woman ahead of her time. Scottish accent required.

Wolfe MacFarlane – Male, 30s. A socially awkward man with a brilliant mind and a simmering temper. Scottish accent required.

Dr. Robert Knox – Male, 50-60s. A driven leader who gets what he wants. British accent required.

Uniformed Man (George) – Male, 30-50s. An intimidating officer of the law. Scottish accent required.

Setting: Edinburgh, Scotland. 19th century.

Note: Scene changes should be kept to a minimum in order to allow a gradual increase of tension throughout the play.

Performance Royalties are based on theater particulars. Please fill out an application for a personalized quote.

Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement.

Materials: your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production and can be ordered in Printed or Digital format. Printed Materials are provided on unbound three-hole punched loose-leaf paper while Digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.

The required materials for The Body Snatcher include:

Production Scripts

Available Products:

Wicked Lit Print Edition - The beautifully designed anthology, available at wholesale costs to sell in your lobby!

Director's Script – Single-sided script with space for director’s notes.

Logo/PR Pack – Includes high-resolution artwork and reference photos. Also, ready-designed posters, reviews and pull quotes, if available.