2 MARCH 1962, Page 18


Les Violons, Parfois. . . . (Piccadilly.) I ENJOYED Francoise Sagan's first play, Chateau en Suede, when I saw it two years ago in Paris. The material was fairly frothy—it concerned some eccentrics in a castle in Sweden who had chanced on a plausible reason for spending all their time in eighteenth-century costume—but Miss Sagan whipped her eggs with a difference and raised one's spirits very pleasantly for the statutory two to three hours. She already shared Anouilh's interest in castles and fancy dress; and in her second play, Les Violons; Parfois . . she joins him in the lists where Innocence and Experience tilt.

In his best plays Anouilh gives the encounter a skilfully theatrical setting or shape, but in this respect Miss Sagan ignores his example. A rich burgher of Poitiers has just died and his mistress and her other lover are outraged at not being left his fortune, which goes to a nephew. This young man now arrives; being innocent he is uninterested in money, and being a man he is soon seduced by the middle-aged mistress, who pulls him down on to the settee as the curtain falls on the first of two acts. Since no dramatic situation had developed, and since the analyse de la piece informed me that the hapless pair finally married because 'le contact et:Inc time fraiche a vraiment rafraichi, transforme eerie time feroce,' I at this point went home. The plush red set looks like the inside of a Victorian jewel case in bad repair; the characters and the dialogue are in keeping. These elements, between them, successfully swamp the actors.