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Let's Get a Divorce!


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AT: Let Us Be Divorced! A: Victorien Sardou (with Émile de Najac) Pf: 1880, Paris Pb: 1883 Tr: 1881 G: Com. in 3 acts; French prose S: Prunelles' salon and a restaurant, 1870s C: 6m, 5f, extrasCyprienne is disappointed in her marriage with Monsieur des Prunelles, and has fallen in love with her cousin Adhémar de Gratignan. If Parliament passes the new law allowing divorce, Cyprienne says that she will seek a divorce at once. She explains her disappointment in marriage: for her husband, who has sown his wild oats, it is a matter of settling down; for the wife, with no adventures to look back on, she seeks excitement in marriage. When a telegram arrives, purporting to bring the news that divorce is now legal, Prunelles immediately agrees to a divorce. Cyprienne confesses everything and reveals that she has never actually had sex with Adhémar. No longer having to hide her love for Adhémar, she suddenly finds him very boring. When her husband declares that he will leave her to Adhémar, she follows him to a restaurant, driven by ‘posthumous jealousy’. Here the couple become reconciled, and Adhémar, failing even to recognize his lover's foot tantalizingly displayed from a private room, has to admit that he has lost Cyprienne to her husband.

AT: Let Us Be Divorced! A: Victorien Sardou (with Émile de Najac) Pf: 1880, Paris Pb: 1883 Tr: 1881 G: Com. in 3 acts; French prose S: Prunelles' salon and a restaurant, 1870s C: 6m, 5f, extras

Condemned by Bernard Shaw as ‘Sardoodledum’, the tradition of the French well-made play, in which a carefully crafted plot neatly solves the complications arising out of the action, is exploited interestingly here by Sardou. Admittedly, in the 100 or so plays he wrote, often with collaborators, there are many that depend on mechanical plots and contrived theatrical effects. Here, however, the nature of middle-class marriage is examined with some insight, and the play offers an interesting variation on the traditional plot in which lovers succeed in duping a tedious husband. Once it lacks deception and intrigue, Cyprienne's affair becomes less exciting than her marriage.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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