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The Circle

The Circle
Your Price: $16.95 CDN
Author: W. Somerset Maugham
Publisher: Samuel French
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 80
Pub. Date: 1948
ISBN-10: 0573010714
ISBN-13: 9780573010712

About the Play:

The Circle was one of Royal National Theatre of Britain's top 100 plays of the 20th century.


The Circle is a full-length comedy by W. Somerset Maugham. A titled English lady, who eloped with a former Parliament official, returns with her new husband to the estate – and the husband and son – she abandoned, only to find that the son's wife may soon run off with her own lover. Although the author is most celebrated as a novelist and short-story writer, it was as a playwright that he first knew success. Maugham's most frequently revived play, The Circle is widely regarded as his masterpiece for the stage.

The Circle a rich comedy about double standards and gender that focuses on two love triangles, which come full circle on a weekend in an English country manor. The action is set in a grand house, in the era of Downton Abbey, which is the pride and joy of Arnold Champion-Cheney, a priggish MP, now three years married to the lively, attractive, out-of-love Elizabeth. Thirty years earlier, when Arnold was five, his mother ran off with his father's best friend, Lord Porteous. Now, decades later, the eccentric Lady Kitty returns from exile in Italy, older and wiser but still clinging to her glamorous past. How will Arnold hold his respectable political career together with his hurricane of a mother back in the mix? At a family reunion, Lady Kitty discovers that her daughter-in-law, the effervescent Elizabeth, is confronting the same dilemma. She is smitten with a handsome house guest. Will events turn full circle, with the new love triangle mirroring the past? With the benefit of her own experience behind her, Kitty must decide whether or not to encourage the elopement. This scintillating comedy of manners is a seamless blend of romance and repartee.

The Circle premiered in 1921 at The Haymarket Theatre in the West End of London and opened at Maxine Elliott's Theatre on Broadway in 1926. It has been revived several times in the West End and on Broadway, and continues to be regularly performed in regional repertory, college, and community theatre productions today.

Cast: 3 women, 4 men

What people say:

"The Circle is a piece that grips without ever outstaying its welcome ... this superbly constructed, sharply observant play reveals unexpected warmth and tenderness." — The Telegraph

"What Mr. Maugham has to say he says here with consummate skill. As craftsmanship it is perfect handiwork. Story and play are wholly united. The scenes cross the stage with the natural ease of a dance. And the dialogue is the most adroit that Mr. Maugham has ever written.... The Circle is Mr. Maugham's most brilliant play, and well worth restoring to the stage." — The New York Times

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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