“I advertise daily for an au pair, but it seems to be a dying genre. I’m afraid you were inimitable, my dear: of the few young men who came to be interviewed, not one has had the proper…… disqualifications.”
Hugh Leonard’s allegorical play the Au Pair Man, was nominated for a Tony award on Broadway in 1974. A gauche young Irishman Eugene Hartigan arrives at the home of Elizabeth Rogers to repossess a wall unit on which she has failed to make the repayments. Her home is a crumbling pile filled with memorabilia of the British Empire, its walls held up only by the wall-unit which serves as a room partition. She inveigles him into the “position” of au pair man – the latest in a succession of such – and proceeds to polish his rough ways in return for his “services”. Can he escape her clutches?
This two-hander premiered in Dublin in 1968 starring Donal McCann and Joan Greenwood and was directed by Ted Kotcheff. The production subsequently transferred to London’s West End. A further production toured the UK in 1970. The Au Pair Man was presented on Broadway in 1973 and nominated in 1974 for best play in the Tony awards on Broadway. It starred Julie Harris (also nominated for a Tony Award) as ER and Charles Durning as Eugene.
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