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The Bald Soprano and Other Plays

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,396 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
The leading figure of absurdist theater and one of the great innovators of the modern stage, Eugène Ionesco (1909-94) did not write his first play, The Bald Soprano, until 1950. He went on to become an internationally renowned master of modern drama, famous for the comic proportions and bizarre effects that allow his work to be simultaneously hilarious, tragic, and profoun ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 12th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1954)
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Dustin
Feb 04, 2008 Dustin rated it it was amazing
The Bald Soprano is perhaps the most hilarious sample of writing i have ever witnessed. It absolutely reeks of non-sequitur and extreme linguistic skepticism. As i was reading this play all alone in my room, I burst out into uncontrolled laughter multiple times. After the dust settled, I was able to observe the clever and biting criticism of language manifest in cliche and proverb, the all-out martyrdom to keeping the conversation afloat and come off as witty in the end.
"I believe we have spe
...more
Edward
Sep 10, 2012 Edward rated it it was amazing
This is another play of the genre, "Theater of the Absurd". I read it as well as saw it performed live by a very talented theater troupe many, many moons ago. I don't want to give away the entire plot of this play, but "A-E-I-O-U" is an important part of the dialogue as well as revealing to how Eugene Ionesco might view society sometimes. I do recommend reading this play as well as other plays from Eugene Ionesco. You just might find yourself seeing and enjoying life with all of its absurdities. ...more
Daniel
Oct 31, 2015 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bald soprano 4/5
The lesson 5/5
Jack, or the Submission 2/5
The Chairs (3.5/5, because I can)
Interesting stuff about the futility of language, the pressure (and emptiness) of conformity. The lesson is my fave by far because it goes beyond its absurdists trappings to tackle misogyny in the 1950s. It's a lot to read all at once, but certainly a different idea of what theater can do.
Gretchen Adkins
Aug 03, 2011 Gretchen Adkins rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed the first two plays in this book, not so much the latter two. I feel like Eugene Ionesco had a unifying theme a midst all the madness of his work in the first two plays but it was lacking in the second two.
The stage directions in one of the plays said that the goal was to leave the audience feeling awkward, shameful uncomfortable, and guilty. I'm not a fan of feeling that way after investing so much time in a play. Producing a play takes a lot of time and some "play-goers" woul
...more
Rhoda
Oct 26, 2012 Rhoda rated it it was ok
First, a word of warning: The four plays in this book should not be consumed in one sitting - the absurdity is just too much and you're likely to form a negative impression of Ionesco. That said, after giving myself time to reflect upon each of these plays (and even going to performances of two of them), I feel justified in saying that they are a waste of time. You'd do better to read other existentialist writers like Sartre and Camus, whose limpid prose dramatize their belief that language and ...more
John David
Oct 18, 2010 John David rated it liked it
Shelves: drama
These four plays of Ionesco, among the very first that he wrote, already show him preoccupied with themes that will concern him for the rest of his career in theatre: the futility of language, the terror of ideological conformity, and theorizing about the play within the framework of the play itself. This volume includes “The Bald Soprano,” “The Lesson,” “Jack; Or, The Submission,” and “The Chairs.” Needless to say, giving a summary, insofar as one could even be adduced, would go against the spi ...more
Wayne
Aug 09, 2009 Wayne rated it liked it
The Bald Soprano-- How curious it is, how curious it is, and bizarre and what a coincidence! One should rate this higher due to its place in theatrical history--However, as a read it evokes, but does not realize, the three dimensional theatricality of the stage. Repetition especialy, requires the actors' energy (certainly not mine) to bring life and depth to these lines.
Bridget
Feb 13, 2016 Bridget rated it really liked it
(Note: this review is of The Bald Soprano only.) I have always loved Ionesco and the Theatre of the Absurd. However it wasn't until reading this after reading some of Martin Esslin's commentary and reading Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus that I really understand more of what is going on here - besides the things that make me laugh. Esslin says Theatre of the Absurd "strives to express its sense of the senselessness of the human condition and the inadequacy of the rational approach by the open abando ...more
Jack Davidson
Apr 02, 2016 Jack Davidson rated it really liked it
Shelves: play
The Bald Soprano is definitely a play that I would recommend to friends and family, but when they ask what it’s about I’m not going to tell them anything. Going into this play blind is truly the way to have the best experience. The pauses and beats were plentiful but Ionesco does a perfect job at using these moments of silence.

NOTE: You're supposed to laugh at this one. Please do.

Favorite line: “Here’s a thing I don't understand. In the newspaper they always give the age of deceased persons but
...more
Gregorio
Jan 04, 2014 Gregorio rated it it was amazing
I decided to read the middle two plays (Jack or the Submission; The Lesson) first, and I wasn't quite sure what to think. The plays could either be played seriously or with a lot of humor, and when the humor hits it is very funny (though the humor probably comes out through the French language a lot more). Ionesco does some very smart things in these two plays, but it wasn't until I read The Chairs that I realized the genius of his style of writing. So much depends on the imagination of the audi ...more
Mahmood666
Oct 05, 2014 Mahmood666 rated it it was amazing
اقا و خانم اسمیت یک زوج انگلیسی همخانه و همخوابه ، به تمام معنا،با کلاس،با دیسیپلین که حتی امکان دارد همدیگر را هم نشناسند مهمان دارند ولی انها را نمیشناسند .مهمانها میایند .ولی مهمانها هم انها را نمیشناسند.یک زوج با کلاس،زنو شوهر که هر دوی انها هم یادشان نیست کجا همدیگر را دیده اند.هیچ کدام حرفی برای گفتن ندارند.همگی سعی در صحبت دارند ولی حرفهایشان کاملا پوچ و بی معناست.همانطور که نام نمایشنامه کاملا بی معناست .اواز خوان تاس، فردی که اصلا در نمایشنامه ای چنین بی معنا نقشی ندارد و اصلا دلیلی ندا ...more
Amanda
Jan 28, 2009 Amanda rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Amy
Recommended to Amanda by: Brad
If I were rating the Bald Soprano, I would give it a 5. I give Jack a 1, the chairs a 2 and the lesson a 2. Somehow this makes a overall rating of 2. So I will gush about the bald soprano.

I was introduced to it in a Kathy way. This contributes a lot to the overall liking of something. Kathy is my step mom who can talk about things so lovingly that I love them no matter how dull or ordinary they may seem. She usually does this with romantic comedies and above all odds gets me to hang with Keanu
...more
Natalie
Jul 15, 2014 Natalie rated it it was ok
Likely the strangest thing I've ever read. I laughed, out of sheer absurdity (and also, because I was doing a reading with some very confused people taking it entirely too seriously). It's incredibly overhyped in my opinion (it's the equivalent of slamming your head on the keyboard and allowing Autocorrect to write a play for you), and I'm not sure why it's so popular to produce (low budget, probably), but definitely not to be read when lacking sleep or caffeine. Patience will run thin.
Christopher Sutch
Sep 10, 2011 Christopher Sutch rated it really liked it
Reading these plays made me desire greatly to stage them. I'm certain Ionesco's work has a visceral element to it that only comes through (or, perhaps, mainly comes through) in actually seeing the productions as opposed to merely reading them--especially "The Bald Soprano" and, my favorite in this volume, "The Chairs." Absurdist theater can sometimes be a bit repetitive and dull, but these early plays of Ionesco's still seem fresh, and still contain the seeds of social commentary: upon suburban ...more
علی
Apr 02, 2013 علی rated it liked it
Shelves: modern-plays
The Bald Soprano (1957) has been in permanent showing at the Theatre de la Huchette, in Paris.
مارتین ها، اسمیت ها را به خانه دعوت کرده اند. ماری مستخدمه ی مارتین ها و دوست پسرش که رییس آتش نشانی منطقه است، به جمع می پیوندند. آنها مشغول داستان های خنده دار و اشعار هجو می شوند. رییس آتش نشانی هنگام رفتن می گوید؛ "آوازه خوان طاس"، و خانم اسمیت می گوید او همیشه کلاه گیسش را به یک شکل می گذارد، و فضا از حالت معمول گفتگو خارج می شود، به فریاد زوج ها ختم می شود که می گویند اینجوری نیست، اینجاست. درست پ
...more
Li'l Vishnu
Jan 22, 2014 Li'l Vishnu rated it it was ok
GRANDFATHER JACK [singing]: A char . . . ar . . . ming tip . . . ip . . . ster!

While there were some fascinating moments in this collection, they just weren't my style. I really disliked the circularity of the first two plays. And, though I liked his technique of littering the character's speeches with brief stories about animals, the imagery of each story just struck me as empty. Which feels like his aim, anyways. Either I wasn't in the mood for it or... I need to see them played out, maybe?

I l
...more
Samantha
I only read The Bald Soprano because that is all I had to read for my class. I still want to count it towards my reading goal so I am just not going to rate the whole book. If I was going to rate The Bald Soprano, I would give it a 2 out 5. It made me laugh sometimes, but most times it was just annoying.
Mel
Jan 04, 2015 Mel rated it really liked it
Very clever writing. It's amazing how something so funny can have no meaning at all. As I am about to teach this play I've been researching its origins and Absurd Theatre in general. Ionesco was a trial blazer.
Ilona
Mar 10, 2014 Ilona rated it liked it
The Bald Soprano was excellent. The Lesson was too creepy for my tastes. And the other two were interesting (and weird enough that I'd be intrigued to see them performed live), but not the best.
Kaethe
Jul 16, 2014 Kaethe rated it really liked it
More Ionesco plays. Sometimes I bemoan "the modern play" and the fact that nothing seems as fresh as Ionesco did to me, back then. But what do I know? I don't even go to plays anymore, because I can't stop thinking about as if it were work.
Ignacio
Solo leí la cantante calva, es enredado ya que es teatro de lo absurdo y hay que tratar de entenderlo pero me entretubo :)
tsun
Jul 19, 2015 tsun rated it really liked it
Absurdist plays aptly tend to be repetitions of one another. Thus I won't read the other one I borrowed, 'Rhinoceros and Other Plays'.
Agatha
May 02, 2015 Agatha rated it liked it
The bald soprano was the best. It didn't make much sense but I still found myself laughing out loud.
Mckinley
Nov 16, 2014 Mckinley rated it really liked it
Shelves: play
Like his plays better than the book I read.
Title also Lesson, Jack, or The submission, and Chairs.
Anne Marie
Sep 12, 2015 Anne Marie rated it it was ok
The Bald Soprano: 2 stars. For a play that is made up of almost entirely nonsensical lines, Ionesco manages to make a surprising number of points, but it's rather hard to get through that much nonsense. Perhaps it would be a better play to watch, as many of them are. The main points it seems to make to me: life has become inane, people's lives are so everyday as to be interchangeable, and communication and personal connections have become so cliche as to be meaningless.

I did not read the other w
...more
Ngan Ha
Feb 13, 2014 Ngan Ha rated it really liked it
Shelves: frenchie
Perhaps life is just a series of absurd events...
Tamara
Feb 05, 2016 Tamara rated it liked it
Teatar apsurda na vrhuncu.
Jeff Lucas
Sep 02, 2012 Jeff Lucas rated it it was amazing
Fondly remembering playing the fireman, directed by Tim Longo, San Francisco State Brown Bag Theatre, advisors, teachers, co-actors and writers, Rhonnie Washington, Christopher Hampton, Lyn-Barbra Mahler, Yukihiro Goto, Bill Peters, Mohammad Kowsar, Larry Eilenberg, chair Joel, his friend Charlie Varon, working at the Gateway, new Eureka Theatre, Getting A-Head!, Yuri, Bill Schwartz, nearby comedy club, driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, driving Christopher, my brother reading A Hearbreaking ...more
Jeff
Jan 21, 2011 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven’t read Ionesco in a while and decided to revisit Allen’s wonderful translation of his work. Rereading these four plays, I was struck Ionesco’s humanity.

When we read or see a play that is considered “absurd,” there is often something that feels cold, detached, and disconnected about the work. Not so with Ionesco. For me, the strength in these plays is that they are able to be explosively funny and profoundly dark, all the while maintaining a wistfulness and sensitivity that makes them te
...more
James Taylor
Jan 24, 2015 James Taylor rated it it was amazing
While all four plays are fantastic, The Bald Soprano stands as my personal favorite bit of theatre.
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Eugène Ionesco, born Eugen Ionescu, was a Romanian and French playwright and dramatist; one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd. Beyond ridiculing the most banal situations, Ionesco's plays depict in a tangible way the solitude and insignificance of human existence.

Excerpted from Wikipedia.
More about Eugène Ionesco...

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“When I was born, I was almost fourteen years old. That's why I was able to understand more easily than most what it was all about.” 5 likes
“I'm looking for a monophysite priest to marry our maid.” 2 likes
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