Legendary Journeys
Legendary Journeys

You may also be looking for the song, "The Play's the Thing"
The Play's the Thing
Gabrielle's Play
Series Xena: Warrior Princess
Season 4
Antagonist Zehra
Setting Greece
In-Universe Date Year 4
Production # V0620
Original Air-Date 15 March 1999
Written By Ashley Gable & Thomas A. Swyden
Directed By Christopher Graves
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 85 of 134
Order in Season 17 of 22
Order in Franchise 236 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "The Way"
Next Episode in Series "The Convert"
Previous Episode in Franchise "The Academy"
Next Episode in Franchise "Love on the Rocks"
Title Image
Play thing title.jpg

Gabrielle unknowingly becomes a pawn in a theater scam when one of her scrolls falls into the hands of Zehra, the "Queen of Cons".


I Can't Forget It!

Xena and Gabrielle are travelling to Archon. They take a pit stop in a large valley, where Xena and Gabrielle practice yoga, but Gabrielle is upset over losing the scroll that details her latest journeys with Xena. Xena tells her to go back to Piraeus to find the scroll and they can meet in Archon later.

Dreams of Being Xena.

When Gabrielle returns to Pireaus, she encounters Joxer and is approached by Zehra and Milo, who have the missing scroll. Zehra, who thinks Gabrielle's message of peace is inspirational, introduces herself as a producer and convinces Gabrielle to base a play on her writings. Thrilled with the idea, Gabrielle sends word to Xena about her new business venture and she and Joxer head to the theater to begin casting.

A Message of Peace.

Meanwhile, Zehra and Milo individually approach the warlords Cleon and Therax and convince each of them to invest large sums of money in Gabrielle's play. Knowing that the play will be a failure on its first night, Zehra plans on taking the money and leaving town. Gabrielle would be blamed for the loss and would have to fend off the angry warlords. Back at the theater, the cast grows restless.

In With Love, Out With Hate.

They are bored with the material and everyone, including Joxer, tries to get Gabrielle to add more blood, guts and glory to her vision. Gabrielle does not want to compromise her artistic integrity, but becomes so overwhelmed with the cast's pleas she goes to seek advice from the great Sophocles, who has a play opening the same night.

Kill 'Em All!

Gabrielle is stunned when she enters the theater and sees the stage full of sex and violence. She convinces herself that if the great Sophocles can produce such material, so can she. Gabrielle rushes back to the theater with a new vision in mind.

I'm a Thespian...

Later, as Gabrielle and the cast change the play, two of the warlords sneak into the theater. Engrossed by the violence, they like what they see. Zehra also sneaks into the theater, sees the warlords in hiding and is shocked at the new violent version of the play. Realizing that the new version of the play will be a hit, Zehra convinces Gabrielle to go back to her original vision of peace. Later that night, Gabrielle's play opens to a sell-out crowd and people start to leave almost immediately. Enraged with the thought of losing their money, the warlords rush the stage.

Gabrielle learns that theatre isn't for her.

Suddenly, Xena emerges from backstage and fights the warlords. While Xena and Gabrielle battle the warlords, Zehra and Milo attempt to exit the theater. Gabrielle yells for the audience to become involved with "the play" and they stop the two scam artists. Xena retrieves the warlords' money and convinces them to donate the funds to the local orphanage. Meanwhile, an unreformed Zehra attempts to con some of the actors into letting her represent them. Minya and Paulina become friends. Minya tells Gabrielle that she has learned that deep down she's a... thespian. Joxer is left hanging upside down in the theater.


Although no great literary works of art were harmed or plagiarised, a few thespians stole some scenes during the production of this motion picture


Background Information[]

Behind the Scenes[]

  • This episode is an homage to the Mel Brooks film The Producers, in which a pair of unscrupulous producers attempt to put on a play that's bound to fail so they can make off with the investors' money.
    • Gabrielle's sarcastic suggestion of changing the name of the play to Springtime for Warlords references the name of the show from The Producers: Springtime for Hitler.
  • The title of this episode is a line from Shakespeare's Hamlet. It comes from Hamlet's Act II soliloquy:
"More relative than this:--the play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king."

Key Events[]


  • When the "Gabrielles" are auditioning, one of the auditionees runs out and says "I'm too fat?!" However, when she says this, her mouth doesn't move.
  • When Joxer is painting the set, he is using side to side techniques with his brush and it doesn't look like any paint is on the brush. In the next shot however, he is making hash marks and there's a large amount of paint on the brush.


  • Chakram Count: 1
  1. To knock down a weight from the stage and take out Cleon.
  • In the scene when Gabrielle exchanges conversation with Joxer, he misunderstands her when she replies that the costume she is wearing is known as Sari.
  • Gabrielle is shocked that Sophocles's play is full of sex and violence. In the real world, Sophocles's plays are filled with such themes, even when they are not directly depicted on-stage. His magnum opus, Oedipus the King, features the suicide of its female lead and the self-mutilation of the male one, when each of them realizes they are involved in an incestuous relationship.

Links and References[]


Guest Stars[]

Other Cast[]


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