Idiot's Delight (play)

Idiot's Delight is a 1936 play written by American playwright Robert E. Sherwood.

Idiot's Delight
Written byRobert E. Sherwood
Date premieredMarch 24, 1936
Place premieredShubert Theatre
New York City, New York
Original languageEnglish
Settingcocktail lounge in Hotel Monte Gabrielle in Italian Alps


The play premiered on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre, from March 24, 1936 to July 4, 1936 and from August 31, 1936 to January 30, 1937, for 300 performances. The play had a pre-Broadway tryout at the National Theatre, Washington, D.C., starting on March 9, 1936.[1] The play was presented by the Theatre Guild. Directed by Bretaigne Windust, the cast starred Alfred Lunt (Harry Van) and Lynn Fontanne (Irene), with Sydney Greenstreet as Dr. Waldersee and Francis Compton as Achille Weber. The play was nominated for the 1936 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, Best American Play.[2]

The play was awarded the 1936 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the first of three that Sherwood received. The Pulitzer jury wrote: "We are absolutely in complete agreement in recommending 'Idiot's delight' ...It is a first-rate play, full of dramatic invention, and one or two of the comedy scenes have a Molierian richness."[3]

Sherwood adapted the play into a 1939 film of the same name, starring Norma Shearer and Clark Gable.

The New York City Theatre Company presented a revival at the New York City Center from May 23, 1951 to June 3, 1951. Directed by George Schaefer the cast featured Lee Tracy and Ruth Chatterton.[4]

In 1983, Alan Jay Lerner and Charles Strouse adapted the play into the musical Dance a Little Closer, which ran one performance on Broadway.

The play was produced at the Kennedy Center, Eisenhower Theater in March 1986, directed by Peter Sellars.[5]


The setting is the Hotel Monte Gabriel, in the Italian Alps. The play takes place during a winter afternoon, that evening, and the next afternoon. The hotel guests are trapped at the hotel at the beginning of a world war. The guests are a British couple on their honeymoon, and people from Germany, France, and America.


  • Harry Van, American, the manager of a group of strippers and dancers
  • Irene, the glamorous mistress of a Nazi arms dealer
  • Achille Weber, the arms dealer
  • the Cherrys, British honeymooners
  • Dr. Waldersee, a German doctor
  • Quillery, a French pacifist
  • Captain Locicero, the commander of the Italian headquarters located next to the hotel

See also


  1. Sherwood, Robert Emmet, "Introduction", Idiot's Delight, Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 1964, ISBN 0822216183, p. 4
  2. "'Idiot's Delight' Broadway", accessed December 22, 2015
  3. Fischer, Heinz-D and Fischer, Erika J. Complete Historical Handbook of the Pulitzer Prize System 1917-2000, Walter de Gruyter, 2003, ISBN 3110939126, p. 238
  4. "'Idiot's Delight' 1951", accessed December 22, 2015
  5. Sweeney, Louise. "'Idiot's Delight': badly dated play given snappy production", March 17, 1986
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.