Theater: Purity Corrupted

The Rehearsal, by Jean Anouilh. The world will ferret out purity and destroy it—this is the theme that obsesses Anouilh. In The Rehearsal, the worldlings commit an "elegant and sophisticated crime," the murder of the true love, as undeniably transfiguring as it is seemingly banal, that exists between a jaded French count and a virginal governess. Around this crime Anouilh has fashioned a subtle, scintillating, and bitter black comedy. The ironic gaiety is inverted mourning, the unseen tears are those that disillusionment sheds over its lost illusions.

The Rehearsal is a play-within-a-play. The time...

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