The Constant Wife



  • A comedy by W. Somerset Maugham, first performed in1926 in New York and opening in London a year later for a run of 264performances. An acclaimed 1974 revival in London starred Ingrid Bergman.

    A year later John Gielgud was weighing up an offerto direct the play in New York when he received a good omen at a second-handbookshop in Manhattan. While he was browsing through the titles, abook toppled off the top shelf and landed at his feet. He picked itup and discovered The Constant Wife. He read it quickly andaccepted.

    The play, which has been called Maugham's wittiest and most modern, focuses on the marriage of Constance Middleton, who knows that her husband,John, is having an affair with her friend but takes it philosophically.When the friend's husband angrily confronts John, she skilfully defuses thesituation with a lie. Constance goes into business by herself, becomes financiallyindependent, and announces that she is going on holiday to Italy with Bernard,a former sweetheart. She adds, however, that she still loves her husband: "I may be unfaithful, but I am constant."