The Waltz of the Toreadors

Definition

Theater

  • One of Jean Anouilh's pièces grinçantes,or harsh comedies. It was first performed in 1952 in Paris. The firstLondon production (1956) was staged by Peter Hall at the Arts TheatreClub and featured strong performances by Hugh Griffith and BeatrixLehmann. A film version was later made with Peter Sellers.

    The story concerns General St Pé, a former war hero now facing retirement with an unloved and bitterly neurotic wife. Although he has enjoyednumerous affairs, his one true love remains Ghislaine, the young woman withwhom he once danced the Waltz of the Toreadors nearly 20 years earlier. However, when Ghislaine suddenly reappears in his life and makes it clear thatshe still loves him, the General finds himself unable to leave his wife.Ghislaine becomes so frustrated that she leaps from an upstairs window: fortunately she lands in the arms of St Pé's young secretary, Gaston. The ensuing romance between Ghislaine and Gaston, who turns out to be the General's illegitimate son,drives St Pé to the brink of suicide. In the event, he contents himself with beginning an affair with his new maid.

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