The Fourposter
Jessica Tandy Hume Cronyn The Fourposter 3.jpg
Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn as Agnes and Michael, 1952
Written byJan de Hartog
CharactersMichael and Agnes
Date premieredOctober 24, 1951
Place premieredEthel Barrymore Theatre
Original languageEnglish
SettingBedroom, 1890 to 1925

The Fourposter is a 1951 play written by Jan de Hartog. The two-character story spans 35 years, from 1890 to 1925, as it focuses on the trials and tribulations, laughters and sorrows, and hopes and disappointments experienced by Agnes and Michael throughout their marriage. The set consists solely of their bedroom, dominated by the large, fourposter bed in the center of the room. Its simple set and small cast have made it a popular choice for amateur theatrical groups.

Among the couple's milestones are the consummation of their marriage, the birth of their first child, Michael's success as a writer, his extramarital affair, their daughter's wedding, and their preparations to move to smaller quarters and pass their home on to another newlywed couple.

The Broadway production, directed by José Ferrer, opened on October 24, 1951, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, later moving to the John Golden to complete its 632-performance run. Original cast Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy later were replaced first by Burgess Meredith and Betty Field, and then Romney Brent and Sylvia Sidney. It received Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Director.

Cronyn and Tandy recreated their roles for a July 25, 1955, telecast live on the NBC anthology series Producers' Showcase.[1]


Main article: The Four Poster (1952 film)

The partially animated 1952 film adaptation directed by Irving Reis, which altered the title to The Four Poster to avoid confusion, and changed the characters' names to John and Abby, starred Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer, who won the Venice Film Festival's Volpi Cup for her performance. The film was nominated for both the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Black-and-White Cinematography. The film version alters the ending to have the couple die at the end, and then their ghosts re-enter the house as newlyweds, prepared to enjoy their life together all over again.[2]

The play was adapted for Australian TV in 1964.

In 1966, Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt adapted the play for their musical I Do! I Do!.