The Circle



  • A "perfectly serious comedy" by W. Somerset Maugham,often considered his best play. First produced in 1921 in London,it has often been revived, notably in John Gielgud's 1944 repertoryseason at the Haymarket, when it proved the year's most popular play.Yvonne Arnaud played Lady Kitty Champion-Cheney, Cecil Trouncer washer deceived husband, Gielgud her priggish son, and Leslie Banks herageing lover. Maugham wrote a note from America to the producer, BinkyBeaumont, saying he appreciated his 10% royalty but was not interestedin seeing the play again.

    The action takes place at a party, at which Lord Champion-Cheneymeets Kitty, the wife who deserted him 30 years ago and destroyedhis political career. She is still accompanied by Lord Portreus, herlover. Although Lord Champion-Cheney has enjoyed his carefree unmarriedlife, he is worried because his son's wife, Elizabeth, seems readyto repeat history by eloping with a young businessman. With the helpof his wife and her lover he convinces Arnold that he should giveElizabeth her freedom, this being the best way to bring her to hersenses. Elizabeth and her lover disappear, and the audience are leftwondering if Lord Champion-Cheney's cleverness will pay off.