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Underground Lovers


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A: Jean Tardieu Pf: 1952, Paris Pb: 1954 Tr: 1968 G: Com. in 2 scenes; French prose S: Paris metro platform and train, c.1950 C: 1m, 1f, extrasTwo lovers come and go amidst passengers on the metro platform, some exchanging platitudes, two students discussing the Hero and Leander legend, foreigners speaking unintelligibly. He and She exchange loving sentiments: ‘I am nothing without you.’ ‘We are.’ ‘Say: we shall be.’ ‘We shall be.’ Soon after, they begin arguing: ‘You're no longer you!’ ‘Yes I am, I'm me!’ ‘No you're not!’ ‘It's you who aren't you!’ They eventually have a row, and She runs off in tears. He follows her, calling her by a catalogue of different names. The train arrives, and six passengers board, leaving room only at each end of the line for She and He to stand. While the passengers chant a series of names, He desperately tries to push his way through to She. He gets past each of the passengers by engaging them in turn in nonsensical conversations. She encourages He's efforts by passing a note along the line, although She grows jealous when she sees him chatting for too long to a young film star. He's last obstacle is a man who is haunted by terror. By the time He arrives beside She, She has become as motionless and transfixed as the other passengers. Only when a whistle blows and the train suddenly stops, does She awake from her trance, and the lovers go off happily together.

A: Jean Tardieu Pf: 1952, Paris Pb: 1954 Tr: 1968 G: Com. in 2 scenes; French prose S: Paris metro platform and train, c.1950 C: 1m, 1f, extras

In this absurdist piece, Tardieu offers an amusing cross-section of Paris society, and traces in almost balletic terms the movements of a love affair, from total devotion to pointless altercation. Then like Leander, He manages to overcome obstacles to reach his beloved. At first, it seems that their love has died, but Tardieu allows a happier ending than the Greek legend.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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