A: Jean Anouilh Pf: 1947, Paris Pb: 1948 Tr: 1950 G: Romantic com. in 3 acts; French prose S: Winter garden of a French chateau, c.1947 C: 8m, 6fFrédéric is infatuated with his fiancée, the rich heiress Diana Messerschmann, but she treats him cruelly. His identical twin brother Horace (Hugo), whom Diana secretly loves, is as hard and carefree as Frédéric is gentle and melancholy. Horace hires a beautiful young ballet dancer Isabelle to appear at the forthcoming ball given by Mme Desmermortes, dowager aunt of Horace and Frédéric, in order to jolt Frédéric out of his misguided devotion. At the ball Frédéric is indeed attracted to the graceful and innocent Isabelle, and she responds to his sad demeanour, but remains secretly in love with Horace. Diana haughtily confronts Isabelle and tears her ball dress, leading to the girls fighting. Diana's father Messerschmann tries to buy off Isabelle, but she refuses to take his money. Defeated by her integrity, Messerschmann tears up his banknotes and goes off to dispose of his millions. The following dawn, Isabelle jumps into the lake but is rescued by Horace. Mme Desmermortes persuades Isabelle that she will be happy with Frédéric, who has broken off his engagement to Diana. Now that Diana is no longer rich, Horace agrees to marry her. With the couples happily paired off, news comes that Messerschmann is now richer than ever.
A: Jean Anouilh Pf: 1947, Paris Pb: 1948 Tr: 1950 G: Romantic com. in 3 acts; French prose S: Winter garden of a French chateau, c.1947 C: 8m, 6f
In the best of his pièces brillantes (sparkling plays), Anouilh plays skilfully with standard elements of comedy: identical twin brothers played by the same actor (ultimately derived from The Brothers Menaechmus), a rich dowager aunt who sorts out the complications of the plot, a fantastically rich man whose efforts to become poor only make him richer, and the Cinderella-like figure of Isabelle who meets her Prince Charming at the ball. Christopher Fry's witty translation (in which Horace becomes Hugo) was directed by Peter Brook in 1950.