Televised Theatre: „Play at the Castle”


Friday, October 9, 2020 / 19:00 - 21:15

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Comedic play in 3 acts

Playwright: Ferenc Molnár

About the author

Whenever we see or hear Ferenc Molnár’s name somewhere, most of us reminisce instantly about the Paul Street Boys battle to defend their precious “grund” (playground). For good reason, since this book is considered a classic in Hungary, and it is also one of the most famous Hungarian youth novels outside the country, having been translated into many languages.


Ferenc Molnár and Lili Darvas 1928
(photo Edward Steichen, source VARIETAS)

Nevertheless, he made his fortune and became known internationally as a prolific and successful playwright, novelist, and journalist. The successful performances of his plays abroad, mostly in the USA, brought him fame. From 1908 through 1930 he became one of the best-known and highest-paid playwrights on Broadway. Simultaneously, some ‘friends’ maliciously dubbed him Checkspeare behind his back, who wastes his talents on writing bubbly, featherweight comedies. He was surrounded by love and disdain at the same time.

The plays of Ferenc Molnár are performed in many countries to this day. Their merit lies in brilliant plots, infused with dialogues that sparkle with wit.

About the genesis

The “Play at the Castle” (Hungarian: Játék a Kastélyban) is a comedic play written in 1926. It was adapted into an English-language play by P. G. Wodehouse under the title “The Play’s the Thing”, which premiered in New York in November 3, 1926.
Admittedly, the author himself told the story that happened to him once, while returning to Hotel Sacher in Vienna, Austria, where he lived at the time, with his beautiful wife, the renowned actress Lili Darvas. When he entered the living-room, he overheard a conversation in German from the adjacent room. He first recognized Lili’s voice, then he heard the flirting words of a strong baritone. Overwhelmed by jealousy and fear of being cheated, he promptly tore open the door. It turned out, Lili was rehearsing an act with a prominent Austrian actor.
Molnár made this experience the starting point of his play.

About the plot

The plot is frivolous but lovable at once :
Three gentlemen arrive at a Villa on the Italian Riviera, in summer. Two of them, Turai and Gál, are established playwrights, and along with them comes Turai’s nephew, Ádám, a talented composer. They have together composed an operetta, in which the prima donna is played by Annie, Ádám’s fiancée. The three men have planned to pay a surprise visit to Annie, who is also staying at the castle. Something goes wrong in the middle of the night when Annie comes home with Almády, an actor, with whom she was once romantically involved, unaware of the presence of her fiancé in the other room…

We stop the teaser now. If we aroused your interest, please come and watch how the adventure unfolds.
The language of the play is Hungarian, and, unfortunately, there are no subtitles.