Mortal Terror is set in 1605, the year of the Gunpowder Plot, a terrorist conspiracy to blow up the houses of Parliament. Shakespeare, delicately balancing his allegiances to assure his own survival, is commissioned by King James to write a play to justify his right to the throne. That play is Macbeth.
Mortal Terror is the second piece in a trilogy of plays by Robert Brustein about the life of Shakespeare. The trilogy begins with The English Channel and concludes with The Last Will.