Page 10, 14th April 1939

14th April 1939
Page 10
Page 10, 14th April 1939 — The Play
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The Play

Tragedy its Own has Setting

Heaven and Charing Cross

THE back sitting room of a tobacconist and newsagent's shop in North London—the birthday of Mrs Norman, the proprietor's wife and mother of a numerous family — the gathering of the clan to celebrate—good enough setting for any tragedy.

Poor Mrs Norman had produced a pretty mixed bag—but very typical. Eddie Norman, a " reg'lar caution," a punster, a wag, everything that drives one to drink.

Beatrice Peek, nondescript but almost genuinely witty daughter, who was constrained to live in the company of the heaviest and dullest of husbands; always late in the conversation, always grimly to the point, always pointing the most estimable moral, such was her partner in life. The third in the family was poor Lily Norman, who was crippled and unlikely to find a husband, devoted to her mother and consumed with jealousy at her mother's obvious preference for Charlie.

cUCH was the background that was largely responsible for Charlie's crime. Because, after all, a family like that is bound to quarrel, especially if It's " Mother'S " birthday party. Throw Into it a young, neurotic, and highly emotional boy like Charlie, and Bella, the " painted little minx " he adores, and the quarrel is certain eventually to revolve around them.

One had to love Charlie (Frederick Peisley), though no doubt he was exasperating to a sister with a sense of dignity and none of humour. Mrs Norman (Mary Clare) was a dear, and her handling of Charlie after the crime was a masterpiece of unconscious maternal psychology. Alfred Norman (George Carney), far too easy-going, somehow managed to exercise parental control over this brood.

These three parts were all very well, even brilliantly acted. The whole cast was good, except for the two policemen, who somehow were not in the least convincing. Act I provides brilliant satire of North Paddington life, and in the last two acts the tragedy works up steadily to its final crisis—Charlie's confession to his mother and his atonement next day.

St. Martin's

The Taming of the Shrew

TYRONE GUTHRIE has worked up a 1 frolicsome farce out of material provided by Shakespeare. The extent to which one can enjoy the result depends upon the extent to which one can appreciate Mr Guthrie's sense of

humour, for the whole cast present his case enthusiastically.

The producer certainly invites his audience to join in the fun. Comic clothes are plentiful, false noses and rough and tumble acrobatics permeate the whole performance, and all on the stage are driven through the play by a swaggering Petruchio, armed with a paper cudgel, who constantly administers chastisement to a tender portion of the anatomy of his servant Grumio.

While this is all quite good boisterous fun, Shakespeare is submerged for most of the performance, and comes to light only during the few quiet intervals in the intense activity which characterises the production.

Katherine (Miss Ursula Jeans) gives us an excellent performance as a wild, wild, shrew; a performance which reaches its climax in a really superb " submission " speech, delivered with just a suggestion of humorous background to complete its charm. Mr Roger Livesey portrays a swashbuckling Petruchlo with great thoroughness and evident enjoyment. One is impressed by the energetic performances of Mr Peter Grenville as Lucentio, while Petruchio's servant Grumio (Mr Frederick Bennett) Proves a very lively clown despite his master's frequent attacks upon his nether garments. Altogether a lively and humorous performance, when one enjoys originality in a Shakespearian production.

C. G.

Old Vic

Touch Wood

DODIE SMITH is rather like a benevolent spider. She weaves a web of delicacy, makes It obviously beautiful with the mist of sentiment, then, having got the characters caught up in it she frightens them a little and makes them struggle with much buzzing to get free. The struggles make her play.

Just when you think it is all rather sad the sun comes out, the web vanishes and the prisoners fly away.

The revival of Touch Wood at the " Q " deals with just a bunch of people at an hotel.

A young girl falls in love with a married man nearly twice her age, flirtation and infatuations upset divers husbands and wives, but it all comes right in the end, with perhaps just a few bruised wings.

Torin Thatcher as Robin Herriot gives a grand performance—but then, he was supposed to be a grand person.

Oriel Ross played his wife with perhaps just a shade too much self-pity.

Eileen Erskine as Mab, the girl, was silly, selfish—and convincing.

But Joan Henley in the really difficult role of Elizabeth Enticknap, a 38-yearold spinster and recipient of everyone's troubled confidences, made the part live. I have not seen a finer piece of acting for many a day.

believe the company are now on tour. Those towns that receive a visit are lucky indeed.

D.C.

Q Theatre




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