Publicity photo for the Broadway production of The Fourposter with, from left to right, director José Ferrer, stars Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, and playwright Jan de Hartog
|Written by||Jan de Hartog|
|Characters||Michael and Agnes|
|Date premiered||October 24, 1951|
|Place premiered||Ethel Barrymore Theatre|
|Setting||Bedroom, 1890 to 1925|
The Fourposter is a 1951 play written by Jan de Hartog. The two-character story spans thirty-five years, from 1890 to 1925, as it focuses on the trials and tribulations, laughters and sorrows, and hopes and disappointments experienced by Agnes and Michael throughout their marriage. The set consists solely of their bedroom, dominated by the large fourposter bed in the center of the room. Its simple set and small cast have made it a popular choice for amateur theatrical groups.
Among the couple's milestones are the consummation of their marriage, the birth of their first child, Michael's success as a writer, his extramarital affair, their daughter's wedding, and their preparations to move to smaller quarters and pass their home on to another newlywed couple.
The Broadway production, directed by José Ferrer, opened on October 24, 1951, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, later moving to the John Golden to complete its 632-performance run. Original cast Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy later were replaced first by Burgess Meredith and Betty Field and then Romney Brent and Sylvia Sidney. It received Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Director.
The partially animated 1952 film adaptation directed by Irving Reis, which inexplicably altered the title to The Four Poster and changed the characters' names to John and Abby, starred Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer, who won the Venice Film Festival's Volpi Cup for her performance. The film was nominated for both the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Black-and-White Cinematography. The film version alters the ending to have the couple die at the end, and then their ghosts re-enter the house as newlyweds, prepared to enjoy their life together all over again.