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The Constant Wife

The Constant Wife
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: W. Somerset Maugham
Publisher: Samuel French
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 72
Pub. Date: 1948
ISBN-10: 0573010773
ISBN-13: 9780573010774
Cast Size: 5 women, 4 men

About the Play:

The Constant Wife is a full-length comedy by W. Somerset Maugham. Although the author is most celebrated as a novelist and short-story writer, it was as a playwright that he first knew success. This abrasive war-between-the-sexes comedy focuses on a socialite, who pretends not to know her doctor husband is playing doctor with her best friend – until that friend's jealous husband confronts her. Although the author is most celebrated as a novelist and short-story writer, it was as a playwright that he first knew success. The Constant Wife takes joy in the imperfections of life and applauds those who elude the strict confines of society to discover true happiness.

The Constant Wife is a delightfully witty comedy of manners, marital maneuvers, and mistresses of the very rich in 1920s upper-class London. Constance Middleton is calm, self–possessed and cheerfully plays her traditional role as the intelligent, charming housewife of a delightful and distinguished surgeon with a highly successful practice, a pleasant home, friends and family. However, at the same time, her life is not as perfect as it seems. Her husband is having an affair with Marie-Louise, her best friend, and she knows of it. However, her whole family, including her sister, mother and friends think that she is not aware of it. Rather than humiliating herself and others, she denies the affair, defends the two, and sets about turning bad luck, unfaithful friends, local gossip and a broken heart to her own advantage. This then changes when the jealous husband of Marie-Louise confronts her. She then delivers a twist after the seemingly secret affair between the husband and his wife's friend is revealed. This cheeky satire pokes holes in the expectations of relationships, fidelity and social roles that were just as relevant in the 1920s as they are today.

The Constant Wife had a pre-Broadway engagement in 1926 at the Ohio Theatre in Loudonville, and then transferred to Maxine Elliott's Theatre on Broadway in New York City. The UK premiere was in 1927 at the Strand Theatre in London's West End. The work has since been revived a number of times on Broadway and the West End, and continues to be regularly performed in regional repertory, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 5 women, 4 men

What people say:

"...the supremely savvy orchestrations of Constance Middleton as she responds to her husband's philandering by seizing financial and sexual independence make her a perverse protofeministand an antecedent to the women of Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City." — Variety

About the Playwright:

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) was an English playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was famous as a dramatist before he was known everywhere for his superb short stories and for his novels, the immensely acclaimed, Of Human Bondage, becoming one of the most widely read works of fiction of the twentieth century. At his peak, four of his plays were playing in London's West End at the same time, a feat that would be unheard of today. His witty, intelligent and politically minded work competed with his contemporary Noel Coward, and was in the tradition of Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw.

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