Fabien

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Four-act comedy.
First performance at Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens (September 28th, 1956).

Preface

"I met the heroin of this story at my friend Jacques Théry's. She was his cook. She was a woman of great volume, with a beautiful face lit up by a pretty maiden smile.
Let us call her Milly, as it is the name I gave her in my play. One day, she told me her story.
When she was twenty, she had married Fabien, a photographer on fairs and markets. According to her, he was exceptionally handsome, stunningly smart and knew everything and all the rest. He was also a great artist, who made extraordinary pictures.
Unfortunately, he was affected with some sort of disease called "allergic": he could not stand the smell of hydroquinone or hyposulfite. That is why he had taught Milly how to develop and print photographs, and she was in charge of all the laboratory work.
She would get up at five in the morning and run from darkroom to kitchen, while he slept until noon because of that "allergic". Their business was doing a brisk trade when Milly's younger sister, brought up by an uncle who had become lustful, came and took refuge at their home. She was seventeen, and a very pretty girl.
The generous Milly did not reject her and Fabien, who was a kind-hearted man, declared that she was a gift from God to their household deprived of children and that he was going to take care of her as though she had been his own daughter, so that three months later, the little sister confessed to an astounded Milly that she was pregnant with her new dad's offspring.
Thus, in violent despair, Milly packed her bags and said:
- She is the one with the child, so she is your wife.
She left to find a position as a cook. Following her advice, Fabien obtained a divorce for "desertion."
She became the child's godmother and would visit her sister every Sunday, would cook for them and develop some delicate negatives.
All three characters in this story seemed interesting to me and, on holidays, I tried to turn their story into a comedy.
Of course, I was induced to change some details.
Therefore, instead of a photographer wandering from fair to fair, I decided to have the couple live in Luna-Park, in an environment I was quite familiar with as the large Porte Maillot amusement park was the property of Léon Volterra, who used to spend his mornings there, that is when the park was closed, and I would often go with him.
(...)
Furthermore, once I had finished writing the first three acts, I realized that the characters I had created refused to take part in the original real outcome; they imposed another one upon me, which I agreed to without question."

Main initial performers

Milly Mathis - Milly
Philippe Nicaud - Fabien
Odile Rodin - Marinette
Jean Lefèvre - Le docteur

FABIEN
Tell me, my beautiful fatty poppet...
(He sees the bearded woman and talks to her in great courtesy.)
Hello, Madame Lodoïska! Caught you chattering with Milly!

LODOÏSKA
What is the harm in that, Monsieur Fabien?

FABIEN
There is probably no harm! But I am absolutely certain that you were talking about love!

MILLY
And that is true! For I was talking about you when you came in!

LODOÏSKA
Here is a good spouse, Monsieur Fabien! As she sees it, to talk about her husband is to talk about love!

FABIEN
And yet we have been married for... five years!

MILLY
What is five years? In twenty, thirty years from now, it will be just the same!