Un fil à la patte
|Un fil à la patte|
A photo by Nadar from the first production
|Written by||Georges Feydeau|
|Date premiered||January 9, 1894|
|Place premiered||Théâtre du Palais-Royal|
Un fil à la patte (known in English as Cat Among the Pigeons or Love on the Rack) is a French bedroom farce in three acts written by Georges Feydeau. The play premiered on January 9, 1894 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, and is considered one of Feydeau's masterpieces, having done incredibly well in its initial production. and been staged many times in recent years.
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Monsieur Fernand de Bois-d’Enghien, who has had a long on-off relationship with Lucette, has just returned to her after a few weeks apart. While he acts as though everything is normal, he reveals in asides to the audience that he is getting married to Viviane, daughter of the esteemed Madame Duverger. He does not know how he can break the news to Lucette, who loves him to an extreme degree and would surely be completely devastated if he left her. As the morning continues, more characters arrive at the apartment. Bouzin is a notary's clerk who dabbles in song-writing. Although he does not know Lucette, he brings along a song he's written for her.
Although he is sent off when Lucette calls his song stupid with her lunch guests, the guests later discover an anonymous bouquet and ring sent to Lucette. While the gifts had actually been sent anonymously by General Irrigua, a South American minister of war who absolutely loves her, Bouzin had sneakily planted his business card in the bouquet. When he returns for his forgotten umbrella, they surround him welcomingly, soon sending him back to his apartment to retrieve the song when they start planning changes.
Lucette tells him she is in love with someone else, he asks Bois-d'Enghien who her lover is. He realizes the General wants to kill him, so he lies and says the lover is Bouzin. Meanwhile, Lucette is meeting in another room with Madame Duverger, who is hiring her to sing at the wedding that night.
Talking with her mother while preparing for the guests to arrive, Viviane reveals that she has a particular fetish for men with scandalous reputations, which she thinks Bois-d'Enghien is not. Bois-d'Enghien arrives soon, and is shortly followed by De Fontanet, who also ate lunch at Lucette's apartment that morning and does not realize Bois-d'Enghien's predicament. He reveals details about Lucette which Bois-d'Enghien is forced to cover for until he can explain his situation to De Fontanet in private. While they are talking, Lucette, her sister Marceline, and De Chenneviette, who is acting as her manager, arrive. Bois-d'Enghien scrambles to hide in a wardrobe while De Fontanet covers for him. Madame Duverger shows Lucette her dressing room before leaving her alone to get ready for the night. She and Marceline soon find Bois-d'Enghien, who completes frightens and confuses them. He says he was playing a joke and pretends he is only a guest at the wedding.
While Bois-d'Enghien is able to tell his story to De Chenneviette, he spends the rest of the night telling numerous lies to hide his story from everyone else. When she comes to, she is furious at Bois-d'Enghien and, while he tries to convince her that he will not be married long, she pulls a trick on him by putting a rose down his back. When he is forced to strip down to remove it, she starts screaming with joy, beckoning everyone in the room to find the two of them in their undergarments.
The stage is split between part of Bois-d'Enghien's apartment and the hallway outside it, which connects to the building's main staircase. The act begins with a monologue from Jean, Bois-d'Enghien's serving man, giving a monologue and sending off a florist who was looking for a wedding taking place on the floor above Bois-d'Enghien's. Bois-d'Enghien soon arrives, complaining that he had been locked out after losing his key and had to stay in a hotel. He sends Jean out to have a new lock made.
Not long after, Bouzin, who, by chance, had been the notary's clerk at the wedding, arrives at the apartment to deliver a bill and a copy of the contract. Bois-d'Enghien tears up the contract and Bouzin is just about to leave when the General arrives. There is a grand chase scene before Bois-d'Enghien sends the General down the stairs after the wrong person. Bouzin, although unharmed, is too terrified to leave or even answer the door when Lucette comes to the door. However, she lets herself in with the key Bois-d'Enghien had lost. She tries to make up with Bois-d'Enghien but he refuses and tells her they're done for.
Bois-d'Enghien convinces the General he can have Lucette and tells him how to win her, sending him running down the stairs after her. Bouzin, who had been in a back room while Bois-d'Enghien and Lucette talked, then comes out from the apartment but fails to catch the door before it shuts and locks again. Bois-d'Enghien spots the gun and uses it to force Bouzin to give him his trousers and vest. Bouzin is then forced to flee upstairs when the concierge comes up with policemen looking for a man in his underclothes. They continue upstairs as Viviane arrives, to the surprise of Bois-d'Enghien. Having realized that Bois-d'Enghien really does have the scandalous reputation she desires, she has returned to reunite with him. Madame Duverger, who was attending the wedding upstairs, soon discovers them and gives in to Viviane's pleas for her to be married to Bois-d'Enghien.