The elixir of love


The ambiguity of emotions… Louise and Adam separate but are unable to settle into their separation. Neither can envisage life without the other. Having loved one another too much, they now hate each other. In short, they are still in love but their passion takes a different form.

Adam and Louise are both intelligent and capable of lucid expression, but their emotions have got the better of them. Adam claims to live freely but everything he does is only so that he can tell Louise about it. She is more reserved and challenges him to find “the elixir of love”, without knowing whether she is satisfying a desire for revenge or a desire to win him back. 

Now, thousands of miles apart, they exchange daily messages and search for the “elixir of love”: how to apply it and how to keep someone else in love. As they hide behind this game, followed by all sorts of provocations, they try to understand that mysterious force: love, which once swept them off their feet only to vanish later on but which may have the potential to take hold of them again.

THE ELIXIR OF LOVE is an epistolary novel, and when I wrote it, I felt as though I was writing a “theatrical novel” because the only voices you hear are those of the hero and heroine. Now that I’m adapting it for the stage, I feel as though I’m writing a “novelesque play”: two flesh-and-blood people whose character and depth come from the introspective messages they exchange. They write and they talk, but they also listen, say nothing and observe one another. And the miracle of the stage is that, although in the story they live miles apart, the audience can see both of them, sometimes desperately lonely and at other times electrified, in thrall to the object of their desire.

What I hope is that the show will act as a mirror that fairly reflects the tragedy and comedy of our amorous ambiguities: the mirror of pulsing life.  

Eric-Emmanuel SCHMITT


  • French-language version published by Albin Michel

Stage Productions

Théâtre Rive Gauche, 1 January 2015, directed by Steve Suissa.

Starring: Marie-Claude PIETRAGALLA and Eric-Emmanuel SCHMITT

Set design: Stéfanie JARRE

Lighting: Jacques ROUVEYROLLIS

Costumes: Pascale BORDET

Sound: Maxime RICHELME