Boulevard theatre is a theatrical aesthetic that emerged from the boulevards of Paris' old city.
Starting from the second half of the 18th century, popular and bourgeois theatre alike took up residence on the boulevard du Temple, then nicknamed 'boulevard du Crime' due to the many melodramas and murder stories shown there. In addition to the many attractions on display there – fireworks, pantomime, acrobats, etc. – a so-called 'boulevard' repertoire emerged separate from upper-class theatre. Then, starting from the Second French Empire, vaudeville theatre and comédie d'intrigue arrived on the scene.
Boulevard theatre consists mostly of comedies but also dramas. In general, the characters are simply drawn, ordinary or easily understandable. There is a strong tendency to avoid touchy subjects, such as politics and religion. The style is not designed to challenge preconceived ideas or offend. Examples include such sex comedies as La Cage aux Folles and Boeing Boeing.
Georges Feydeau, most active between 1890 and 1920, often produced up to the 21st century, is a boulevard theatre playwright whose satiric plays often take aim at adulterers and libertines in a manner not generally seen in British theatre of the same era.