The Balcony



  • An expressionist play in nine scenes by Jean Genet, first performed in 1957 in London. In the 1960 Paris production, which was directed by Peter Brook, Marie Bell gave a noted performance as the madame, Irma. Set in a brothel, the play compares the sex games of prostitutes and their clients withthe shams of conventional society. The clients play out the roles of bishop, general, and judge, while the prostitutes assume the guises of virgin, thief, and queen; meanwhile the madame watches everything. When a revolution overthrows the government, those inside the brothel are urged to act out their roles in public asa means of restoring order. These are played out so realistically that the borderline between illusion and reality becomes impossible to discern.