6 SEPTEMBER 1946, Page 22

La Folle de Chaillot. By jean Giraudoux. (Bernard Grasset. 105fr.)

THERE it a bitter flavour in this play produced in Paris last year, the year of Giraudoux's death. Like his other plays it is a fantasy ; the characters are types, mostly without names, coming forward and giving descriptions of themselves. There is little action or plot. The theme -is the degeneration of the world as typified by Paris, and the viciousness in particular of financiers and big business. The first act is set in a café where a bogus company is being formed; the second in a basement room where the Folle entices financiers and Press representatives by the rumour of petrol to enter an under- ground cul-de-sac and then shuts the door on them. Thus the world is freed by a Folle; the bitterness is expressed in the fact that a madwoman and three ghoulish and _gently cynical com- panion Fortes from other districts of Paris, together with a rag- picker, a deaf-mute, a would-be suicide and a piongeuse, are the only wise ones. It is difficult to imagine how this extremely formal piece, whose merit lies in its irony and precise and delicate language, would appear on the stage. When if is read, however, its aphorisms, disgusts and even nonsense are highly entertaining, and in spite of its destructiveness leave an almost poetic impression of moral order and beauty.