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“You Outrageous Man!”

“You Outrageous Man!”

Bluebeard on the Comic Stage

(p.89) Chapter 6 “You Outrageous Man!”
Casie E. Hermansson
University Press of Mississippi

The dramas made based on Charles Perrault’s French fairy tale “Bluebeard” often revolved around Bluebeard as an oriental grotesque; his wife, Fatima, was sold by her mercenary father Ibrahim to the “three tailed Bashaw” and rescued by her true love, Selim, along with her brothers and her sister Anne. This was the story set by Michael Kelly and George Colman the Younger in their play. After 1866, however, a rival “masterwork” appeared: Blue Beard Re-Paired; a Worn-Out Subject Done Up Anew. Adapted by Henry Bellingham from a French comic opera by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, this comedy has a plot that is radically different from that of Kelly and Colman’s work. All types of Bluebeard dramas make a reference to William Shakespeare’s Othello, which also features a wife murderer, a man “turned Turk.” There are many comic renditions of “Bluebeard,” which fall into three major subcategories: harlequinade and pantomime, extravaganza and burlesque (including opera bouffe), and amateur or parlor plays for home entertainment (usually as “children’s” theater).

Keywords:   drama, Charles Perrault, fairy tale, Bluebeard, comedy, William Shakespeare, Othello, harlequinade, burlesque, plays

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