Robert Macaire

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Robert Macaire is the name of a historical character as well as the title (or part of the title) of a number of plays, films and books based on the tale.

Robert Macaire, the historical character

The various dramatized and literary versions of the story of Robert Macaire is based on a legend from the 14th century, as recorded in a letter from Julius Caesar Scaliger, who tells of a French courtier who was murdered in the forest of Bondy, north of Paris. The only witness to the murder was his dog, which pursued Robert Macaire, the perpetrator, until he was captured. The king ordered that Macaire, armed with a stick, and the dog should fight a duel, which took place on the Isle de Notre Dame, and the dog won, forcing Macaire to confess and be hanged. (See Tamsin Pickeral, 2012: p.134).

For more on the character, various versions of the story and the theme in literature, see the entry on "The Dog of Montarges" in Wikipedia[1]

Dramatised versions of the tale

The basic tale has been used as source material, translated and adapted into various languages over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. English versions by various authors, are broadly found under two main titles: Those using the phrases The Dog of Montargis (or The Dog of Montarges), and/or The Forest of Bondy, on the one hand; and - particularly after the 1830s- those using the title Robert Macaire on the other.

For plays using the phrases The Dog of Montargis (or The Dog of Montarges) and/or The Forest of Bondy in their titles, see the entry on Le Chien de Montargis, ou la Forêt de Bondy.

For plays using Robert Macaire in their titles, see below:

Robert Macaire (1834) by Robert Antier and Frédérick Lemaître

Robert Macaire is a French burlesque drama in 4 acts and six scenes by Benjamin Antier (1787-1870)[2], Saint-Amand (1797-1885)[3] and Frédérick Lemaître, (1800-1876)[4]

Also known as Robert-Macaire.

The original text

First performed at the Folies-Dramatiques on 14 June 1834. It was written as a follow-up piece to the L'Auberge des Adrets (1823) by the same authors, which first introduced their version of the character "Robert Macaire".

Translations and adaptations

The original 1834 French text was translated and adapted into English as Robert Macaire, or The Two Murderers of Lyons by Charles Selby Published 1842.

The original 1834 French text was translated and adapted into English as Robert Macaire, or The Roadside Inn Turned Inside Out, a burlesque extravaganza, by Henry James Byron (1835-1884)[5]. Also known as Robert Macaire, it was first performed in English in the Royal Globe Theatre, London, on 16 April, 1870. The English text published by Thomas Hailes Lacy, 1872 ([Lacy's Acting Edition of Plays. vol. 93.)

The French play was later also adapted as Robert-Macaire by Philippe Gille (1831-1901) and William Busnach (1832-1907) and performed in the new version on 1 March, 1889 at the Théâtre Porte Saint-Martin and published by Tresse et Stock (Paris).

Performance history in South Africa

1862. Produced in English in Selby's version (Robert Macaire or The Two Murderers of Lyons) in the Eastern Cape village of Keiskama Hoek's Garrison Theatre by the Band Amateurs (North Lincolnshire Regiment of Foot) on June 19 by the Band Amateurs featuring T. Smith (Germeuil, a wealthy farmer), T. Paterson (Dument, an inn-keeper), W. Dansie (Robert Macaire, under the assumed name of Bertrand), J. M'Kechnie (Jacques Strop), F. Girton (Charles), J. F. Gay (Pierre, head waiter), J. Mann (Sergeant Loupy), J. Grimley (Louis), B. Sheeran (Francoise), J. Davies (Marie), J. Durney (Clementine). Also produced was George Wood's one-act farce, The Irish Doctor, or The Dumb Lady Cured from Moliere's Le Médecin Malgré Lui

1875. Produced in English in Byron's version (Robert Macaire, or The Roadside Inn Turned Inside Out) by Disney Roebuck in the Bijou Theatre on 16 September, with Arrah-na-Pogue, or The Wicklow Wedding (Boucicault). The evening a farewell benefit for Mr Paulton and Mrs Paulton.

1876: Performed as Robert Macaire on 12 May in the Athenaeum Hall, Cape Town, by the Disney Roebuck company, with Ici on Parle Français (Robins) as afterpiece.

1877: Performed in English as Robert Macaire, or The Roadside Inn Turned Inside Out in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town on 28 September by the Disney Roebuck company, with the burlesque Aladdin, or The Wonderful Woman (?)


F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.

Facsimile version of the 1889 French version, [6]

Facsimile version of the 1842 text by Selby, Google E-Book[7]

Facsimile version of the 1872 English text by Byron, Google E-Book[8]

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays

Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Return to PLAYS III: Collections

Return to PLAYS IV: Pageants and public performances

Return to South African Festivals and Competitions

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page