AT: The Magnanimous Cuckold A: Fernand Crommelynck Pf: 1920, Paris Pb: 1921 Tr: 1966 G: Farce in 3 acts; French prose S: Belgian village, early 20th c. C: 8m, 4f, extrasThe beautiful young Stella is deeply in love with her husband Bruno, the village scribe, despite being importuned by other admirers. Bruno is fiercely jealous and strikes his cousin Pétrus, simply because he detected a glimmer of lust in his eye. Confronting Stella, Bruno is at first reassured and blames his silent secretary for inciting him to jealousy. When Stella weeps, Bruno again fears she must love another. Three months later Bruno is obsessed with Stella's infidelity. He orders his secretary to entrap her and makes Stella wear a black cloak and a hideous paper mask. Becoming sick with worry, he seeks relief in certain knowledge and commands Stella to sleep with Pétrus. To the amusement of the villagers, even Stella's enforced adultery does not satisfy Bruno, because he is convinced that she was trying to trick him. Bruno now invites all the men of the village to have their way with Stella. Even he seduces her in disguise. Realizing too late that he could have had her for himself, he has to abandon Stella to the outraged village women, who carry her off. She is saved by a cowhand. Her love for Bruno has been killed, and she leaves happily with her rescuer. Bruno is convinced that this is another of Stella's tricks.
AT: The Magnanimous Cuckold A: Fernand Crommelynck Pf: 1920, Paris Pb: 1921 Tr: 1966 G: Farce in 3 acts; French prose S: Belgian village, early 20th c. C: 8m, 4f, extras
The Magnificent Cuckold may seem yet another French farce in the tradition of Feydeau and Labiche, and this is how Lugné-Poe directed it at its premiere. However, the overblown language, the absurdly extreme behaviour of Bruno, and the grotesquerie of the action (Stella masked, Bruno dishevelled, the mute secretary, the Breughel-like villagers) all make this a piece which goes decisively beyond realism. Indeed, it became internationally famous through Meyerhold's 1922 modernist production as The Magnanimous Cuckold.