When For Services Rendered opened at the Globe Theatre in London in 1932, Somerset Maugham had been heralded as the most successful playwright in England. Maugham was praised for his adept storytelling skills, which had entertained audiences for thirty years. This night, however, English audiences were not prepared for the anti-war focus of his new play, and, as a result, it closed after just seventy-eight performances.
Appreciation for the play has grown over the years since its first production. Now For Services Rendered is acclaimed as one of Maugham’s best plays. The story, which so shocked early audiences, focuses on the devastating effects of World War I on an English family. As Maugham chronicles the damaged lives of each member of the Ardsley family and their friends, he presents a scathing indictment of the war and the governments that convince young men to sacrifice their lives in the name of glory.