Composers and their stage works 

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe

Drama. Adapted for the stage by Edward Albee from the novella by Carson McCullers.
Produced on Broadway with Colleen Dewhurst in the featured role. - Martin Beck Theatre - October 30, 1963


The Ballad of the Sad Café is the almost legendary tale of three people in a small Southern town - the Junoesque proprietor of the Sad Cafe, her jailbird husband, and her distant cousin, a hunchbacked dwarf. The play is a study in love and violence, and the ingredients are pure and uncomplicated. As the narrator remarks, 'The facts of love are often sad and ridiculous.' Here there are three people in love but no good can come of it.' The husband is in love with the wife, the wife is in love with the dwarf, and the dwarf loves the husband. The play bursts wide open when the towering bride throws the man she just married out of her bedroom on their wedding night. Torn between anger and desire he finally leaves town.

Returning some years later, after a stretch in the penitentiary, he finds his wife showering all her devotion on the dwarf who has come to live with her. But at first meeting the little man is hopelessly attracted to him, and in turn moves back into the Sad Café, threatening to take the dwarf away with him if she objects. The day of reckoning arrives: husband and wife meet to settle their differences with their bare hands, and it is a whale of a fight. But the narrator was right - no good comes to any of the three people. There is no suggestion of unnatural sex in the relationships; the wife's affection for the dwarf is that of a girl and her baby brother; the dwarf's feeling for the husband is hero worship for somebody who has seen the world and even been in jail. Yet the involvement of each person is deep and desperate, however grotesque.