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Jean Cocteau

Terrible Parents

Opening February 2018 on the Small Stage

This notorious comedy written by the versatile French artist Jean Cocteau provoked a scandal in the wake of its world premiere in 1938 at the Théâtre des Ambassadeurs in Paris. Accused of immorality, it was attacked by a number of critics who succeeded in achieving a temporary ban on its run. A few weeks later the show was transferred to the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens and soon became a box-office hit, running for three hundred nights before the outbreak of World War II.
Undisputedly, Terrible Parents is a perplexing play presented in a vaudeville-comedy style, dealing with extremely bizarre relations in a rather unusual family. Yvonne and Georges are a middle-aged married couple, living with their adult son Michel and Yvonne’s sister Léonie. As befits a well-made comedy with a spectacular twist, nothing in the family is how it appears at first sight. Léonie and Georges used to be a couple many years ago. The relationship between Yvonne and Michel borders on incest. Meanwhile Georges is having a fling with his young lover, Madeleine, whom he has falsely told that he is a widower with no family. The plot gets further complicated when Michel falls in love with Madeleine and wants to introduce her to the members of his family as the love of his life.
The play of unrealized, repressed and banned forms of love, portrayed by Jean Cocteau, presenting the case of an extravagant five-member extended family, has eventually become a regular feature of theatre repertoires both in French as well as in foreign countries. After WWII two acclaimed films based on the play were made: Les parents terrible featuring the original cast was directed by Jean Cocteau in 1948, while in 1953 a British version, called Intimate Relations was directed by Charles Frank.

Les parents terribles, 1938

Comedy of the absurd



Eva Mahkovic


Alen Jelen