The Abandoned

La Délaissée, a one-act comedy by French playwright Max Maurey (1866-1947), premiered at the Comédie Royale on March 23, 1910. It’s a simple tale of marital squabbling in the context of a somewhat larger misdemeanor: Pierre admits to his wife Angela that he has not only embezzled a large sum of money, but lost it all playing the stock market. She reproaches him, and they fight, noisily, attracting the attention of the concierge. They are warned that they will be evicted from their lodgings for making a noise, but Pierre explains that they are actors rehearsing a play, which seems an acceptable explanation and excuse. Once they are alone, the fight starts again, and comes to blows – whereupon the landlord arrives and applauds them for their fine acting!

The issue, of course, is how to stage that climactic moment of domestic violence, and just like Le Médecin Malgré Lui, some productions will do it in a more interesting way than others. Let’s take an example from 2014 at the Salle Sacha Guitry in Courbevoie:

The play also has appeal outside France: there was a London production in 1915, for example. But of more immediate moment is the Russian production of 2001, staged in Zelenograd under the title Voila! It was so popular that, when the theater’s anniversary came round in 2013, it was one of a small number of fondly remembered productions chosen to have extracts included in a special gala performance. It is this 2013 performance that supplies our visuals, with Ilya Khanbudagov as Pierre and rather a lot of Natalia Timonina as Angela.

The video reveals how determinedly she tried to escape, and in a really unconventional way!

Applause, please, for all concerned!

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