Georges Feydeau (French: [? f?.do]; 8 December 1862 - 5 June 1921) was a French playwright of the era known as the Belle Époque. He is remembered for his many lively farces. He wrote over sixty plays and was a forerunner of vaudeville.
Georges Feydeau was born in Paris, the son of novelist Ernest-Aimé Feydeau and Léocadie Boguslawa Zalewska. At the age of twenty, he wrote his first comic monologue in earnest. He found his first success four years later with Tailleur pour dames (Ladies' Dressmaker, 1889). That year Feydeau married Marianne Carolus-Duran, the daughter of the famous portrait painter Carolus-Duran. To Feydeau, the marriage brought wealth that would sustain him until he found greater success. The marriage lasted 15 years after which the couple underwent a judicial separation and were formally divorced in 1916.
Feydeau began investigating the great farces in 1890, studying the works of Eugène Labiche, Henri Meilhac and Alfred Hennequin. This study inspired him to write his acclaimed play Champignol malgré lui (Champignol in Spite of Himself, 1892). Following this, Feydeau made a name for himself both in France and abroad, some of his plays opening overseas and in other languages before they opened in France.
These farces often involved Paris' demi-monde. They are noted for their great wit and complex plots, featuring misunderstandings and coincidences, and what one critic called a "jack-in-the-box construction".
Among his 60 plays, his most famous are: Une puce à l'oreille (A Flea in Her Ear, 1907), Le Système Ribadier (1892), La Dame de Chez Maxim (The Girl from Maxim's, 1899), and Hortense a dit: "Je m'en fous!" (Hortense says, "I don't give a damn!", 1916). Other notable Feydeau farces include L'Hôtel du libre échange, Le Dindon (Sauce for the Goose, 1896) and the series of plays he wrote after 1908, grouped under the title Du Mariage au Divorce: On purge bébé, Feu la mère de madame, Léonie est en avance and Mais ne te promène donc pas toute nue).
Though critics at the time dismissed Feydeau's works as light entertainment, he is now recognized as one of the great French playwrights of his era. His plays are seen today as precursors of Surrealist and Dada theatre, and the vaudeville. They have been continuously revived and are still performed today, 17 of them having been performed on Broadway between 1895 and 1992. In Serbia, Ljubisa Ristic directed A Flea in Her Ear, which has been performed more than 1,600 times. The play's premiere was on June 7, 1971, and it has now been performed continuously for more than 45 years.
Despite being a phenomenally successful playwright during his lifetime, his propensity for high living (he had a table permanently reserved for him at Maxim's), gambling, and the failure of his marriage led to financial difficulties.
During the winter of 1918, Feydeau contracted syphilis and slowly descended into madness until his death three years later at age 58. He is buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris.
|Par la fenêtre||1882||"Through the Window", "Wooed and Viewed"|
|Amour et Piano||1883||"Love and Piano"|
|Gibier de potence||"Fair Game", "Jailbird"|
|Fiancés en herbe||1886|
|Tailleur pour dames||"A Fitting Confusion"|
|La Lycéenne||1887||"The Schoolgirl"|
|Un bain de ménage||1888||"A House Bath"|
|Chat en poche||"Pig in a poke"|
|Les Fiancés de Loches|
|C'est une femme du monde !||1890||"She is a woman of the world!"|
|Le Mariage de Barillon||"The Marriage of Barillon"|
|Monsieur chasse !||1892||"The One That Got Away"|
|Champignol malgré lui||"Champignol in Spite of Himself"|
|Le Système Ribadier||"Where there's a will", "Every trick in the book", "Now You See It"|
|Un fil à la patte||1894||"Cat Among the Pigeons", "Get Out of My Hair!"|
|Notre futur||"Our future"|
|Le Ruban||"The Ribbon"|
|L'Hôtel du libre échange||"Free Exchange Hotel", "Paradise Hotel"|
|Le Dindon||1896||"Sauce for the Goose", "There's One in Every Marriage", "Ruling the Roost", "An Absolute Turkey"|
|Les Pavés de l'ours||"A Rough Diamond", "The Boor Hug"|
|Séance de nuit||1897|
|Dormez, je le veux !|
|La Dame de chez Maxim||1899||"The Girl from Maxim's"|
|La Duchesse des Folies-Bergères||1902|
|La Main passe||1904||"She's All Yours"|
|La Puce à l'oreille||1907||"A Flea in Her Ear"|
|Feu la mère de madame||"Madame's Late Mother"|
|On purge bébé||1910||"Baby Won't Sh*t"|
|Mais n'te promène donc pas toute nue !||1911|
|Léonie est en avance ou le Mal joli|
|Cent Millions qui tombent (unfinished)|
|On va faire la cocotte (unfinished)||1913|
|Je ne trompe pas mon mari||1914||"I Don't Cheat on My Husband"|
|Hortense a dit: "Je m'en fous!"||1916||"Hortense says, 'I don't give a damn!'"|
The Party's Over, a one-act play by Jay Parker is loosely based on Feydeau's one-act Par la Fenêtre.
Feydeau's one-act farce "Mais n'te promène donc pas toute nue!", translated by Olivier Bernier as "Please don't walk around in the nude" was produced at Harvard in 1960.
John Cleese's adaption of Feydeau's Monsieur Chasse! - entitled Bang Bang! in 2020.