Jane Asher as Celia (with her co-star Alec McGowan) in some scenes from Christopher Hampton's "The Philanthropist". The play opened at the Royal Court Theatre in London on August 3, 1970, then moved to the May Fair Theatre.
Later, in spring 1971, Jane appeared in "The Philanthropist" in New York City at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
The Philanthropist is a play by Christopher Hampton, written as a response to Molière's The Misanthrope. After a tryout at the Royal Court Theatre, London, the piece premiered on Broadway under the direction of Robert Kidd.
Described by Hampton as a "bourgeois comedy", the piece is set in an "English University Town". The Philanthropist demonstrated Hampton's ability "to write witty, subtle and revealing dialogue."
A CurtainUp! review gave the following summary:
- "The prelude to the play is so very clever and it must have marked out the young Christopher Hampton for notice. It reminded me of [Tom] Stoppard's The Real Thing when everything isn't as it seems and the audience are strung along. Philip and Donald are in a tutorial with a student, John, discussing John's play which has a dramatic but unbelievable ending. The first act continues in Philip's rooms in college where his fiancée Celia is cooking dinner for six. First on the guest list is fellow don, and English lecturer, Donald, colleague and confidant of Philip. They are to be joined by a writer, Braham, Araminta and Liz. After a pairing off with lifts offered home, the six mix and meld. The next morning they reap the aftermath of the previous night's sexual activity or even inactivity. "
A small tryout production was staged in London at the Royal Court Theatre in 1970. A further revised production played in 1970 at the May Fair Theatre in London.
The Philanthropist then premiered on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on March 15, 1971, following previews from March 11. The cast featured Alec McCowen in the lead role; David Merrick and Michael Codron produced. The Broadway production ran for 64 performances, closing on May 15, 1971.
The New York Times described it as "a good evening of high-class theatrical highjinks that says more than might be seen on the surface." The show was nominated for three Tony Awards, including the 1971 Tony Award for Best Play, and McCowen won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance. Robert Kidd directed the production, which featured set design by John Gunter, costumes by Sara Brook, and lighting by Lloyd Burlingame.
Photos 1 & 2) Topfoto.co.uk
Photo 3) Getty Images.
Photos 4 to 6) E-Bay auction listings.