17 January 2024
TOPAZE was created in Berlin before being performed by André Lefaur in Paris in 1928. The play was then presented in Milan, Copenhagen, Belgrade, Prague, Amsterdam, Budapest, Odessa, Moscow and Zagreb. Its triumph in Paris equalled that of Cyrano de Bergerac in 1897.
Comedy in four acts.
First performance at the Théâtre des Variétés (1928).
Main performers at the creation
André Lefaur – Topaze
Marcel Vallée – Muche
Pierre Larquey – Tamise
Pauley – Castel Bénac
Jeanne Provost – Suzy Courtois
Liliane Garcin – Ernestine Muche
Topaz and his friend Tamise are both teachers in a boarding school whose principal’s main concern is not to displease the rich parents of his students. But this is precisely the mistake Topaz makes when he refuses to give a good grade to a student who has not earned it.
He is fired and is forced to ask for private lessons at home, which leads him to Suzy Courtois, the mistress of a politician of dubious morality, who offers him a job as a secretary. Despite his naivety, he soon discovers the true nature of the business his employer is involved in and becomes aware of the role of a straw man that has been entrusted to him. Little by little, he carries out operations for his own account, without the knowledge of his boss, who realizes it too late: Topaze has surpassed him and ousted him by the extent of his findings. Having become rich and powerful, Topaz finds the morals he used to teach obsolete. The brave Thames, himself shaken in his convictions, will be very close to switching to the other side.
…To succeed in life, that is to say to occupy a situation which corresponds to your merit, what must you do?
STUDENT TRUMPS, thinking hard.
You have to be careful.
If you like. You have to do…
Watch out for what?
STUDENT TRUNKS, decisive.
To the drafts.
The whole class laughs.
TOPAZE, tapping his desk to restore silence.
Student Tronche, what you are saying is not entirely absurd, since you are repeating advice given to you by your mother, but you are not getting to the heart of the matter.
To succeed in life, you have to be… You have to be…
(Student Tronche sweats horribly, and several students raise their fingers in response, saying, “Mister, Mister…”. Topaz rejects these advances.)
Let the person I am questioning answer. Student Tronche, your last grade was a zero. Try to improve it… You have to be a ho… ho…
The whole class waits for the Tronche student’s answer.
Topaz leans in towards him.
STUDENT TRUMPS, lost.
General laughter accompanied by a music box jingle.
Zero, sit down. (He writes down the zero.) You have to be honest.