L'affaire du Courrier de Lyon

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A number of plays and other works have been written about the infamous French criminal case generally known as "L'affaire du Courrier de Lyon" (or sometimes the "Courrier de Lyon" case in English)[1].

The original event

The L'affaire du Courrier de Lyon refers to a famous French criminal case known as "l'Affaire du courrier de Lyon" (or the "Courrier de Lyon" case in English[2], that occurred during the French Revolution. During the night of 27 and 28 April 1796, a mail coach on its way to Lyon and carrying money for the Army of Italy, was ambushed outside Paris by several armed men. Both the driver and the armed guard were brutally killed, along with other people.

Plays based on the case

Le Courrier de Lyon, ou L'attaque de la Malle-Poste by Moreau, Siraudin and Delacour (1850)

Le Courrier de Lyon, ou L'attaque de la Malle-Poste ("The courier of Lyons, or the attack upon the mail") is a French play in five acts and eight tableaux written by Eugène Moreau (1806-1876)[3], Paul Siraudin (1813-1883)[4] and Alfred Delacour (1815-1883)

The original text

It was first performed in the Théâtre de la Gaîté, Paris, on 15 March, 1850. Published Michel Lévy fr. in 1850 (as Volume 61 of Théâtre contemporain illustré).

Translations and adaptations

According to WorldCat Identities[5] 34 editions of the play were published between 1850 and 1997, in 5 languages.

The French play later formed the basis of the French film Affaire du courrier de Lyon by Claude Autant-Lara and Maurice Lehmann (1937[6]).

Performance history in South Africa

The Courier of Lyons by Charles Reade (1854)

The original text

In 1854 Charles Reade (1814-1884)[7] wrote an English play in three acts called The Courier of Lyons[8], inspired by the French play. (Read's play is also found under the title The Lyons Mail.) Written specifically for the actor Charles Keane, it opened on 26 June 1854, running for twenty-six performances. Frequently revived, the play spawned many pirated versions in the 19th century.

Translations and adaptations

Reade's play was turned into a silent film called The Lyons Mail in 1916[9] and a sound version (also named The Lyons Mail and also known as Courrier de Lyon) in 1931[10].

Performance history in South Africa

1878: Performed as The Lyons Mail in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 18 March by Disney Roebuck and his company, with a "Burlesque Extravaganza" called Ill Treated Il Trovatore, or The Mother, The Maiden and The Musician (Byron), a "dance on the High Pedestal" by the The Kickapoos Kickapoos and the one act play A Phenomenon in a Smock Frock (Brough).

L'Affaire du Courrier de Lyon by Marcel Dubois (1953)

L'Affaire du Courrier de Lyon is a drama in five acts and six tableaux by Marcel Dubois (1891-)[11]

The original text

Published on Paris by Editions de l'Amicale in 1953.

Translations and adaptation

Performance history in South Africa


Facsimile version of the original French text of Le Courrier de Lyon, ou L'attaque de la Malle-Poste, BnF Gallica[12]







D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.366, 406

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