Ernest Thesiger and Fay Compton in The Circle

Ernest Thesiger and Fay Compton in The Circle

Somerset Maugham's play The Circle was first performed at the Haymarket Theatre in 1921.

Maugham was a playwright, novelist, and short-story writer who, in 1908, scored the theatrical triumph of having four plays running in London at once. The Circle was an elegant and hilarious social satire, with a serious central situation, explored with Maugham's characteristic shrewd understanding of human nature. Arnold Champion-Cheney will never forgive his mother. 30 years before, in a sea of scandal, Lady Kitty abandoned her son when she ran away with Lord Porteous, the man she loved. Now she returns to face the husband and son she left behind and meet her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, a young wife confronting the same dilemma.

Here are Ernest Thesiger as Arnold and Fay Compton as Elizabeth in the original production. Compton came from a theatrical family, members of which are still prominent in the acting profession (actor Alan Howard is a relation). Thesiger, as well as having a long and diverse acting career, was one of the world's greatest experts in petite point embroidery.