The Madman of Arles is based on history, but is a fantasy, a docudrama. The author has taken some small liberties with chronology and geography, but the piece is generally factual. All of the characters existed, more or less in the roles given them, but the dialog is the author's invention. Still, there is not a line in the play that is out of character for any of them. Their speeches are what they might have said, had one been there to hear them. Similarly, it is unlikely that the real persons upon whom the characters are based were ever assembled in one place at one time, but it is nonetheless a possibility that they were. At any rate, they were all connected through Vincent. The play is set at the psychiatric hospital at St. Remy, St. Paul de Mausole, and Vincent's medical problems were those that he actually experienced. The treatments he underwent for those illnesses were standard for the time, the end of the nineteenth century. The play takes place in the Chapel of the hospital. The doctors and orderlies have assembled for their usual monthly meeting. As is customary, one of the doctors, Dr. Felix Rey, is to present one of his cases, and has heightened his chances of making a favorable impression on the hospital's demanding director, Dr. Theophile Peyron, by inviting several guests. The guests include Vincent's brother, Theo, and two of his artist-friends, Paul Gauguin and Toulouse Lautrec. Also present are Rachel, a prostitute , and Sergeant Dumas, a gendarme, both from Arles. George Poulet, one of the hospital orderlies, is there, and a visiting psychiatrist, Dr. Paul-Ferdinand Gachet, is also present. The assemblage discuss Vincent's illness and treatment, and the patient is interviewed. The dialog leads the audience to understand Vincent's heartfelt goals in life, and his ultimate wish to die at the peak of his career.