In This Drama Of St. Thomas More
IERE is a Catholic play that's not afraid to be intelligent. The play is the first production of a new company formed by two young
men, Leslie French and Alan Hay, who have had the courage to risk financial loss by putting before the people this generous, imaginative study of a Catholic Englishman and Saint.
Yes, there are inaccuracies. St. Thomas may not have been frightened of being hung, drawn and quartered—though such supernatural absence of fear would seem to detract from his merits—he may not have refused to make his last confession to a priest who had taken the King's Oath.
But Traitor's Gate is a play, not an historical treatise.
The most serious mistake in the play is the sentimentalising of the love that Peg Clement, More's adopted daughter, has for the Saint. There is an uncomfortable five minutes in one of the last scenes when Jack Hawkins and Margaretta Scott do their best to make us believe a somewhat maudlin fancy.
But the blemish is slight and unremembered in the total bleak splendour of the play.
The saint is shown as a man, an exceptionally splendid and charitable man, but still as a man, with
He is a Man the appreciation of
good wine and good learning and songs; with an intense love of men, a meticulous veneration for the law, and a healthy fear of pain. There is, and praise be the Lord for it, no fatuous attempt to put on the stage a devotional statue that walks and talks and changes costume two or three times.
Jack Hawkins makes the best possible
use of every opportunity he is given, and, as the opportunities are numerous, his portrait of saintliness is something to be remembered with nostalgic pleasure when one must watch one's locals being very pious about The Upper Room. or A Mystery Play.
The saintliness of More is built up
through his reactions to the temptations he suffers through the agency of lesser men: Cromwell, Norfolk, Nicholson, Roper, Cranmer—and Cromwell is the greatest of these lesser men, and it is through him, through his malevolence and oddly generous hatred, that More lays bare and vanquishes the final terrible temptation : to die martyr for the sake of martyrdom.
Michael Martin-Harvey is a joy as Nicholson, the pitiable little priest, full of cringing, well-mod
Full Marks to ulated caution.
the Cast Margaretta Scott
is not quite so happy as Peg Clement, because Peg, like all the women in this play, is not at all
convincing. In spite of some interesting stuff in Act Two, about a woman's withered hand, and the slums of Tudor London, Peg never seems to matter very much. She has no essential relation to the triumph of Thomas More. She seems a charming,
but rather tiresome intrusion.
Cromwell, who begins as a monster and becomes steadily more human as he discovers the strength in More, is played by Julien Mitchell to full satisfaction.
So there you have Traitor's Gate. I am not going to say every Catholic should see it. People are so often bullied in this fashion into seeing every dull piece of propaganda.
Traitor's Gate is not dull and it's not propaganda, it's just a darn good play.
Duke of York
Behind The Blinds
66 AMUSING in parts, but without " sufficient unity " is a fair criticism of this play. In a series of short scenes we