A: Jean Anouilh Pf: 1950, Paris Pb: 1950 Tr: 1958 G: Romantic com. in 5 acts; French prose S: A salon and an attic room in an 18th-c. chateau, France, c.1950 C: 5m, 3fThe Count (‘Tiger’), a man who realizes that ‘futility must be taken quite seriously’, has inherited a chateau, on condition that he stays one month every year and provides a home for 12 orphans. In order to make this sojourn bearable, he and his wife Éliane decide to stage Marivaux's The Double Inconstancy, and are already wearing their 18th-century costumes. To play the other parts, he has invited his long-suffering mistress Hortense, his friend the womanizer Héro, his wife's airhead lover Villebosse, his wife's lawyer Damiens, and Damiens' god-daughter, the simple and poor Lucile, who is to play Marivaux's heroine, the innocent Silvia. While rehearsing the role of the Prince, the Count declares his love for Lucile. Damiens, concerned about the Count's intentions towards Lucile, asks to marry her, but she rejects him. When the Count offers to share with Lucile the little money he still possesses so that she can be independent, she falls in love with him. The Countess pretends that a ring has been stolen, in the hope that being suspected of the theft will drive Lucile away. When that fails, she asks Héro to seduce her. With consummate cynicism, and by warning Lucile against ‘sentimentalists’ like the Count, Héro succeeds. Lucile leaves for good, and Héro is so disgusted with himself that he seeks suicide by getting Villebosse to challenge him to a duel.
A: Jean Anouilh Pf: 1950, Paris Pb: 1950 Tr: 1958 G: Romantic com. in 5 acts; French prose S: A salon and an attic room in an 18th-c. chateau, France, c.1950 C: 5m, 3f
In one of his wittiest, cleverest, and darkest comedies, Anouilh exploits the traditional theme of the bored aristocrat who finds love with the simple peasant girl (as in Marivaux's play) but allows 18th-century elegance and romanticism to be undercut by 20th-century common sense and cynicism.