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The Fourposter

The Fourposter is a 1951 play written by Jan de Hartog. The two-character story spans thirty-five years, from 1890 to 1925, as it focuses on the trials and tribulations, laughters and sorrows, and hopes and disappointments experienced by Agnes and George throughout their marriage. The set consists solely of their bedroom, dominated by the large fourposter bed in the center of the room.

Among the couple's milestones are the consummation of their marriage, the birth of their first child, Michael's success as a writer, his extramarital affair, their daughter's wedding, and their preparations to move to smaller quarters and pass their home on to another newlywed couple.

The Broadway production, directed by José Ferrer, opened on October 24 1951 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, later moving to the John Golden to complete its 632-performance run. Original cast Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy later were replaced first by Burgess Meredith and Betty Field and then Romney Brent and Sylvia Sidney. It received Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Director.

The partially-animated 1952 film adaptation directed by Irving Reis, which inexplicably altered the title to The Four Poster and changed the characters' names to John and Abby, starred Rex Harrison and Lili Palmer, who won the Venice Film Festival's Volpi Cup for her performance. The film was nominated for both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Black-and-White Cinematography.

Cronyn and Tandy recreated their roles for a July 25 1955 telecast on the NBC anthology series Producers' Showcase.

In 1966, Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt adapted the play for their musical I Do! I Do!.

Its simple set and small (two person) cast have made it a popular choice for production by amateur theatrical groups.


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