Les Voisines


16 pages

Les Voisines

| 1862 | Paris, France
Polichinelle, Gripandouille, Cababuche, Le Magicien, Le Commissaire, Mme Polichinelle, Mme Cassandre, Mme Cababuche
Number of acts

Performed in September 1861 (but perhaps premiered earlier) in the Théâtre de marionnettes founded by Duranty in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, the play was not well received by the press, as can be read in Le Messager des théâtres et des arts dated 15 September 1861. The journalist, Eugène Montrosier, used the play (whose original title he did not know) to discredit the literary ambition of Duranty's project as a whole. He insists on the triviality of the language and the banality of the situations which, according to him, dull the figure of Polichinelle and make him seem more 'bourgeois'. He perceived neither the complexity of the play's dramatic construction (which echoes Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor), nor the causticity of the satire. When Duranty published the play in 1862 under the title Les Voisines, he humorously introduced the play with a mythological fiction that features evil emissaries who have come to sow discord in the world in the guise of two female neighbours....

Plot summary

Two jealous and slanderous female neighbours are severely punished

The bachelor Gripandouille courted Polichinelle's wife, Colombine, who rejected him. Two jealous neighbours, Mrs Cassandra and Mrs Cababuche, slandered Columbine. To warn her of this, Gripandouile wrote her a letter in which he made an appointment with her. But this letter fell into the hands of the neighbours. Gripandouille found out about it and, wanting to take revenge, told Cassandra that his wife had an appointment with a lover. In the meantime, Mrs Cababuche told Polichinelle that Colombine had an appointment with her lover. Polichinelle went to the appointment but, mistaking Mr and Mrs Cassandra for Colombine and her lover, he beat them up. Then, realising his mistake, he hit Mrs Cababuche because she had lied to him. The two shrews then urged their husbands to kill Polichinelle, but he persuaded the two men to go and consult a sorcerer instead to find out the truth about their wives. The sorcerer revealed the wickedness of the two women. The Gendarme and the Commissioner, called in to administer justice, hanged the two women to the great satisfaction of the husbands.

Related works
The Merry Wives of Windsor, William Shakespeare1602

First performance

Paris, France,

Théâtre des marionnettes du jardin des Tuileries

Publications and translations


Duranty, Théâtre des marionnettes du jardin des Tuileries, texte et composition des dessins par M. Duranty. Paris: MM. Dubuisson et Cie, Éditeurs-Libraires, 1862.

Modern edition

Louis Edmond Duranty, Théâtre des marionnettes. Arles: Actes Sud, 1995.

Literary tones
Comical, Farcical, Satirical
Animations techniques
All audiences
Public domain


Theatrical techniques



Written by

Carole Guidicelli