Paradise Hotel

Paradise Hotel is a translation into English of the French farce L'Hotel du Libre Echange by Georges Feydeau. The story centers around a middle-aged man, Benoit Pinglet, who after 20 years of marriage, arranges a rendez-vous with the beautiful young wife of his business partner and best friend, Henri Paillardin. Alas, sexual infidelity is a tough secret to keep, as Pinglet finds out at the Paradise Hotel in this hysterical, door-slamming, narrowly-escaping-getting-caught comedy of errors. At SDSU's Don Powell Theatre Nov. 19 to Dec. 5. Don't miss it!


Running After Love

L'Hotel du Libre Echange (1894) was one of Feydeau’s earlier plays, and it was co-written with Maurice Desvallieres, a frequent collaborator between 1888 and 1894.

Like many of Feydeau’s other plays, Hotel is characterized by rapid movement of characters on and off stage – what scholar Leonard Pronko calls an essential condition of theatre that Feydeau learned from his predecessor Eugene Labiche. “He compared [his characters] to pieces on a chessboard, and his plays are constructed with the rigor of a well-played game,” Pronko wrote.

In moving his characters from one location to another, Hotel shifts from a bourgeois home to a disreputable hotel and back to the home again. This shift is typical of Feydeau farces and helped to establish the term “bedroom farce.”

Feydeau chose to write about love and sex (l’amour), Pronko surmised, because it offers an apparent escape from boredom (ennui), which Feydeau once said was at the root of all man’s problems. But his characters find that the pursuit of pleasure is hollow, and in the end, they are no better off than they were when their story began. As Pronko pointed out, sadly, “Lying beneath that brilliant polished mechanical surface is all the horror of contemporary life.”

Feydeau himself was a victim of the horror that lay beneath the reverie of La Belle Epoque. He contracted syphilis and died in 1921 at the young age of 58.
Source: Leonard Pronko, Eugene Labiche and Georges Feydeau, New York: Grove Press, 1982.

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