'Destroyed' Edmond Rostand play discovered

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Edmond Rostand, who was feted as a French William Shakespeare when he brought out Cyrano in 1897, was appalled by his first play after it was panned by critics as "indecent" and "insane".

The Red Glove, a vaudeville comedy written a decade before Cyrano and when the author was just 20, was pulled after 17 performances.

Rostand was so ashamed of the work after the success of Cyrano that he paid a theatre not to put it on and the manuscript was thought to have been lost forever.

The convoluted first act takes place in the Musée Grevin, Paris' Madame Tussauds, in which characters pretend to be waxworks then jump out to seduce female onlookers. They are looking for love letters hidden in a shop sign in the shape of a red glove.

Critics slammed the play – co-written by his fiancee's half-brother – as unseemly. In one scene an actress appears in "a short skirt and corset" and in another men are in underclothes.

One described it as "wanton insanity" containing "not a single spiritual word". By the end of the fourth and final act, Le Figaro wrote at the time, "there was no one left in the theatre".

More than a century after it was put on a French professor has stumbled on an unsigned copy hidden in the censorship section of the French national archives...

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