1644, Paris, and 22-year-old Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, also known as Molière, is not yet the writer that history recognizes as the father and true master of comic satire, author of The Misanthrope and Tartuffe, and a dramatist to rank alongside Shakespeare and Sophocles. Far from it. He is, in fact, a failed actor.

His Illustrious Theatre Troupe, founded the previous year, is bankrupt. Hounded by creditors, Molière is thrown into jail, released, then swiftly imprisoned again. When the jailors finally let him go, he disappears. The combined efforts of historians have unearthed no trace of him before his reappearance, several months later, when his troupe begins touring the provinces - a tour that will last for thirteen years, and culminate in Molière's triumphant return to Paris in 1658.