Play 4, 2010

An Italian Straw Hat

by Eugene Labiche

translated and adapted

by Maria Plumb and Rod Thompson 

directed by Maria Plumb

Season Closed


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A French farce with a jealous husband,
a shambolic wedding party, a hungry horse,
and yes, an Italian straw hat!

The Play

On the day of his wedding, Fadinard, bright young man about town (Paris),
is returning from visiting his fiancée in the country, when his horse snacks on a fine Italian straw hat.
The hat is owned by a young lady, who is dallying in the woods with a handsome officer of the Hussars

In order to save the lady’s reputation, Fadinard, with the help of his wedding party,
must find an identical hat before she can return to her suspicious husband.


The Playwright

Eugène Labiche originally studied law, but for an early age began writing plays and other works.

When he married, Labiche promised his wife's parents that he would renounce a profession considered incompatible with moral regularity and domestic happiness. A year later, his wife released him from his vow, and Labiche recalled the incident when he dedicated the first edition of his complete works to her.

He contributed comic plays to various Paris theatres. He was considered a successful but undistinguished vaudevillist until the success of  An Italian Straw Hat in August 1851.

For the next twenty-five years, he continued to write successful comedies on the same plan and containing a dose of comic observation and good sense.


In 1877 he retired, but agreed to publish a collected and revised edition of his works. They came to ten volumes and were enthusiastically received. Admirers have considered Labiche the equal of Molière. His plays are more complex and less coarse than many other examples of French farce.

"Of all the subjects, which offered themselves to me, I have selected the bourgeois. Essentially mediocre in his vices and in his virtues, he stands half-way between the hero and the scoundrel, between the saint and the profligate."

The Director and Adaptor

Maria Plumb has been performing from the age of 6, when the nuns at Barcaldine Convent School had her learn speeches to welcome dignitaries on various occasions. She joined Villanova Players in 1962 and her first role was in Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. Since then she has performed in The Miracle Worker, Woman in a Dressing Gown, A Doll's House, Money and Friends, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and To Kill a Mockingbird. Her most recent role was as Lettice Douffet in Lettice and Lovage

For Brisbane Arts Theatre she has performed in "Death of a Salesman", for Camerata "Old Times", and for Community Theatre Cabaret and An Italian Straw Hat. While on a working holiday in London, Maria studied acting at the Marian Naylor School, and directing at the City Literary Institute. Maria has directed Stage Door, Travelling North, Away, The Busybody ,Fresh Fields and most recently Dr Ox the Experiment. Maria was a reader and script development advisor for Playlab and Playlab Press for many years. 

Rod Thompson has been a member of the Players for 30 years, and has appeared in and directed quite a number of productions. Directions include: Harp in the South, Two Weeks with the Queen, Ten Times Table, Confusions and Dancing at Lughnasa. He has been seen on stage recently as the bigotted, racist, and ultimately successful prosecutor in To Kill a Mockingbird. He was also seen as the strolling accordion player in 'Allo, 'Allo.

Rod collaborated with Maria Plumb to adapt and direct the classic Restoration comedy The Busybody,  and has written Dr Ox: The Experiment, based on a story by Jules Verne.


Down load the poster for An Italian Straw hat here !

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