Cover art by Leonetto Cappiello

The Loser

Georges Feydeau, translated by Laurence Senelick
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Pontagnac, an inveterate womanizer, follows Lucienne to her house and makes advances. When her husband appears, who is none other than Vatelin, one of Pontagnac’s friends, the kerfuffle is soon settled between them as Vatelin, knowing Pontagnac, forgives him. But an unforeseen event sows discord: Liesl, who had been Vatelin’s mistress in Vienna, arrives at his house. Pontagnac takes this opportunity to tell Lucienne that her husband is cheating on her and gives her proof that Vatelin has a date in a hotel room with Liesl. Meanwhile, earnest Redillon, Lucienne’s friend, also declares his love for her. What is Lucienne to do? From there Feydeau’s intricate plot catches you up in a whirlwind of amorous and vengeful hilarity that ends with — you may conclude — everyone getting just what they deserve.

Production Info

Cast: 17 total (6 female, 11 male, doubling possible, female and male bit parts)
Full Length Comedy (about 180 minutes)
Multiple Sets
Period Costumes
Category: Tags: ,

Press Quotes

“In Feydeau’s work, all misunderstandings and slamming doors, THE LOSER is a moment of pure hysteria, a kind of quintessence of the author’s work. In a sort of comic pendant to Zola’s Nana,
Feydeau puts on stage characters guided only by the power of their desires, the will to possess someone else, the exclusive passion for pleasure. In such a society however the places are limited, the combinations difficult. On stage this provides a game of musical chairs that is perfectly hilarious. Those who are not at first motivated by the follies of love end up joining the dance. It all provides a cavalcade which explodes into craziness and hilarious situations. However, there is also in THE LOSER a panic force, an urge to go to extremes which encourages certain dark views of the tragic dimension of the human condition.” —Dans la bibliothèque de Clèanthe

“George Feydeau created THE LOSER in 1896 with codes appropriate to a now remote era. Arranged marriages often brought men and women together while leaving each the opportunity to let his or her heart take an interest somewhere else. Being caught in the act in the presence of the police was the rule when one or another of the parties wished to put an end to a less truly satisfying union. In THE LOSER the dialogue is studded with double meanings and cleverly placed stings. This awareness of conventions works marvelously when it is recreated in the 21st century.” —Stanislas Claude, Publik Art

About the Author


  • Georges Feydeau

    Georges Feydeau was born in Paris on December 8, 1862, the son of novelist Ernest-Aimé Feydeau and a Polish woman. He found his first success at the age of twenty-four with TAILLEUR POUR DAMES (LADIES' DRESSMAKER, 1889). That same year Feydeau married Marianne Carolus-Duran, the daughter of the famous portrait painter Carolus-Duran. To Feydeau, the marriage brought wealth that would sustain him until he found greater success. The marriage lasted fifteen years, after which the couple underwent a judicial separation and were formally divorced in 1916. Feydeau began a study of great farces in 1890, studying the works of Eugène Labiche, Henri Meilhac, and Alfred Hennequin. This study brought him success with his play CHAMPIGNOL MALGRÉ LUI (CHAMPIGNOL IN SPITE OF HIMSELF, 1892). Following this, Feydeau made a name for himself both in France and abroad. Among his sixty plays are his famous UNE PUCE À L'ORIELLE (A FLEA IN HER EAR, 1907), LA DAME DE CHEZ MAXIM (THE GIRL FROM MAXIM'S, 1899), and HORTENSE A DIT: "J'M'EN FOUS!" (HORTENSE SAYS, "I DON'T GIVE A DAMN!," 1916). Other notable Feydeau farces are L'HÔTEL DU LIBRE ÉCHANGE (translated as HOTEL PARADISO, 1894) and LE DINDON (SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE, 1896). During the winter of 1918 Feydeau contracted syphilis and slowly descended into madness in the remaining years of his life. He passed away on June 5, 1921.

  • Laurence Senelick

    Laurence Senelick is Fletcher Professor Emeritus of Drama and Oratory at Tufts University. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard. His expertise is in Russian theatre and drama, history of popular entertainment, gender and performance, history of directing, classical theory. Prof. Senelick is the author or editor of more than twenty-five books, the most recent being, The Final Curtain: The Art of Dying on Stage; The Crooked Mirror: Plays of a Modernist Russian Cabaret; Soviet Theatre: A Documentary History; Stanislavsky: A Life in Letters; The American Stage: Writing on the American Theatre (Library of America) and A Historical Dictionary of Russian Theatre. Others books include: The Chekhov Theatre: A Century of the Plays in Performance and The Changing Room: Sex, Drag, and Theatre, as well as over a hundred articles in learned journals. He is a former Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin. Prof. Senelick was named Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011. Prof. Senelick has been named a Distinguished Scholar by both the American Society of Theatre Research and the Faculty Research Awards Council of Tufts University. He is the recipient of grants and awards from, among others, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies. He has received the Barnard Hewitt Award of the American Society for Theatre Research for The Chekhov Theatre; the George Freedley Award of the Theatre Library Association for The Age and Stage of George L. Fox and The Changing Room; and the George Jean Nathan Award for best dramatic criticism of 2000. He holds the St. George medal of the Russian Ministry of Culture for services to Russian art and scholarship, and is honorary curator of Russian theatre at the Harvard Theatre Collection. He was also awarded a stipend from the TranScript/Mikhail Prokhorov Fund for Translation from the Russian. In 2008 he won the Graduate Teaching award (doctoral level) of the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools and in 2012 the Betty Jean Jones Prize of American Theatre and Drama Society for Distinguished Teaching. He is a widely produced translator of plays from such authors as Chekhov and Feydeau, and director at Tufts of his own translations of The Inspector General, The Bakkhai, and Anything to Declare? He has acted and directed with such organizations as the Poets' Theatre, the Loeb Drama Center, the Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Baroque, the Actors Theatre of Louisville, and the revue The Proposition. He recently devised new courses on Cabaret, Theatre and Visual Studies, and Low Comedy and played Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape at the Balch Arena Theatre. His recipes appear in the Bon Appetit cookbooks.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 5/17/2018
Pages 146
ISBN 9780881457766

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:
The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
The Loser is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC