Cause Célèbre

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Cause Célèbre or A Woman of Principle [1] is a 1977 play by Terence Rattigan[2]. It is based on the true and famous case of Alma Rattenbury, who in 1935 was charged, together with her teenage lover, with the murder of her husband who had been bludgeoned to death. First performed in London in 1977 just a few months before the dramatist’s death.

The original text

Cause Célèbre or A Woman of Principle was originally a radio play, first broadcast on the BBC on 27 October 1975. Rattigan was then commissioned to rewrite it into a stage play ready to be produced in Autumn 1976, but his terminal cancer and casting problems meant he was only able to start work in January 1977, alongside Robin Midgely. This stage version premiered on 4 July 1977 at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. (Wikipedia)

Translations and adaptations

A 1987 television version of the stage play starred Helen Mirren as Alma.

Performance history in South Africa

1978: Staged in Johannesburg and in the Nico Malan Theatre in Cape Town by Pieter Toerien and Shirley Firth, directed by Joan Kemp-Welch, featuring Mary Miller (Alma Rattenbury), Robin Dolton (Francis Rattenbury & John Davenport), Brenda Wood (Irene Riggs & Joan Webster), Deon Stewardson (George Wood), Ann Courtneidge (Edith Davenport), Peter Lyons (Tony Davenport), Naomi Buch (Stella Morrison), Nick Collis (Randolph Brown), Kenneth Baker (Judge), William Lucas (O'Connor), Norman Coombes (Croom-Johnson), Michael Findlay (Casswell), Peter van Dissel (Montagu) and Graham Coppin/David Howard (Christopher).


Pieter Toerien and Shirley Firth theatre programme (undated).

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

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