The Madwoman of Chaillot

Definition

Theater

  • A comedy by Jean Giraudoux, first produced in Parisin 1945, the year after his death. It was an overnight success and(in an adaptation by Maurice Valency) went on to open in New Yorkin 1948 starring Martita Hunt. The performance of the Austrian ElisabethBergner in a 1967 revival led one critic to write:
    It takes a few minutes to adjust to the fact that her Madwomanisn't the huge painted crone Martita Hunt created, a few more to getused to her accent.
    An unsuccessful musical version, Dear World, openedin 1969 on Broadway.

    Giraudoux's play is an early appeal for ecological awareness.A group of eccentrics, led by the Ragpicker, approaches the madwoman,Countess Aurelia, to ask for her help, explaining that the world isbeing 'pimped' by greedy capitalists who now wish to destroy Parisby searching for oil. The Countess agrees to help and lures the capitaliststo the cellar of her house. Led on by promises of untold wealth, theyhappily troop off down a tunnel that leads only to death. CountessAurelia then closes the great stone door.

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