The Bald Soprano (La Cantatrice Chauve) is a play by Eugène Ionesco, first produced in 1950.
The play is nominally set in London, and the characters include Mr. and Mrs. Smith, in whose house the action takes place; their maid, Mary; their guests, Mr. Martin and Mrs. Martin, who may or may not be married to each other; and a local fire chief. It is an example of absurdism, and features conversations with strange twists, bizarre speech patterns, unusual repetition, faulty logic, and many non sequiturs. It was inspired by the contrived sample dialogues in a language course Ionescu took, called English Without Toil, which was also his working title for the play. The final title was inspired by a flub made by one of the original actors during rehearsals, and has no relation to anything that happens in the play.
This play contains examples of:
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Mary addresses the audience directly on several occasions.
- Gainax Ending: After the captain leaves, the conversation between the Smiths and the Martins becomes more and more frantic and senseless, until they start shouting in unison "It's not that way, it's the other way!". The stage goes dark, then we're treated to a rehash of the first scene with the Martins instead of the Smiths. The curtains close slowly over this.
- Here We Go Again!: The play ends with Mr. and Mrs. Martin alone on stage, at which point they segue into the same conversation that Mr. and Mrs. Smith were having alone on stage at the beginning.
- Mind Screw: Everything.
- Mundane Made Awesome: The hosts and guests seem to find exceptionally unusual some ordinary events, like a man tying his shoe and another reading the newspaper.
- Non Sequitur: The Play.
- One-Steve Limit: The Smiths talk about a family who all (women and men) wear the name Bobby Watson, and later get confused exactly which Bobby Watson does the other mean.
- Planet of Steves: Mr. Smith brings up an old family friend, Bobby Watson, who died some years ago and left behind his children Bobby Watson and Bobby Watson, and his widow, Bobby Watson. Mrs. Bobby Watson has recently decided to remarry one of Bobby Watson's relatives, Bobby Watson.
- Playing a Tree: Subverted. An actor plays the door, which is done by standing stock-still with one arm crooked and a doorknob balanced in it. And just as you accept this actor isn't going to do anything, another character greets them and they start acting like an ordinary person.
- Refuge in Audacity: Mary, the maid, says she's the captain's "little spurt of water".
- Secret Identity: Taking her word for it, Mary's secretly Sherlock Holmes.
- Supported by Mr.Smith, who remarks how great a detective Mary is.
- Toilet Humour: Mary seems particularly eager to announce she's bought a chamber pot.
- Trivial Title / Word Salad Title: The title bears no relationship to the content of the play, and the one time somebody quotes the title, it almost sounds as though he's inquiring about the name of the play he's in.