Page 3, 15th September 1950

15th September 1950
Page 3
Page 3, 15th September 1950 — EMLYN WILLIAMS MAKES A PLAY

Report an error

Noticed an error on this page?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it.


Organisations: Salvation Army
Locations: London, Vaudeville


Related articles


Page 6 from 8th February 1957

Minor Masterpiece On Evil

Page 6 from 21st July 1967

" The Wind Of Heaven "

Page 2 from 4th May 1945

Ujnhappy 01411 Year

Page 4 from 26th December 1952


Page 3 from 31st May 1946


False and Vulgar

MR. Emlyn Williams, author and star of Accolade (ALDwYcli) is an arresting mimic. At their best, actors silence audiences moving arid speaking and the onlooker sits rapt. Mr. Williams scoring art effect evokes embar rassed titters, gasps, sniggers, movements, manifested by creak ing seats, or smothered bursts of comment, The reactions, in a more genteel way, are not dissimilar from those evoked by acrobats. While the performer is on-stage the playgoer constantly is jerked back to attention. As mentally he sags, a word of command is barked, 30 to speak, across the footlights: like an erring recruit, he directs his gaze to the sergeantmajor.

Mr. Williams fires details, like machine-gun bullets, at his auditors.

They are kept on their toes. The naive like this, others would prefer to sleep. There is nothing accidental about Accolade. It is unrelievedly bad, entirely false, cleverly engineered to ensure insomnia.

The author always takes a subject calculated to arrest the mass-mind. In Accolade it is sexual vice; the story derives from the sort of incident the News of the World reports, legitimately enough, in columns given to police court news. During a drunken debauch a distinguished man of letters commits an offence against a fourteen-years-old girl. In the terms of the glossier magazines, Mr. Williams limns his consequent tribulations.


It is the early morning of New Year Day. Will Trenting, a famous novelist, is discovered nervously popping about in the study of his house near Regent's Park. The anxiety displayed, one feels, normally would be retained for The Times Literary Supplement. but it is The Times Will awaits. He has been knighted for

services to literature. The paper arrives. The accolade is confirmed ; he may join Sir Hugh Walpole and Sir Thomas Lipton on Olympus. His stark honesty as a writer has been vindicated.

Congratulations are twittered by his beautiful wife, quaint little son, and ex-wide-boy secretary, who adores him. It is like " a morning with Beverly Gigadibs," splendidly illustrated, in Good Housekeeping.

The initial statement is made with brilliantly calculated technical ease. Just when we feel comfortable the rift is made apparent in the lute.

SLIME OF THE PIT There is another side to "Tramp" Trenting. and the nickname has a precise significance. A phone call, and a blackmailer denounces him, Like " Baudelaire, Burns, De Quincey and Shakespeare," Will is given to the odd orgy. He is a genius; his friends know it; his wife understands. Occasionally he goes to Rotherhithe to debauch with local drabs, drinking and indulging, unrestrainedly, in what Mr. Williams defines as sex. He has been found out. He. absent-mindedly, had debauched a child.

The repeated references to Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde which follow are infuriating. One gets that odd feeling of social paralysis that comes after seeing a Jew wear a kilt. The poor chap cannot help it let's

give him a cup of tea. For the author's reference here is R. L. S.'s vision of Hyde. as set down by

Jekyll." li.

thought of Hyde, for all his energy of life, as of something not only hellish but inorganic. This was the shocking thing ; that the slime of the pit seemed to utter cries and voices; that the amorphous dust gesticulated and sinned; that what was dead, and has no shape. should usurp the offices of life."

The rubbish which is Accolade presents the evil side of the figment called Trenting as the accomplice of his " genius" Stevenson wrote a universal tragedy. On the spiritual

plane the Accolade is non-existent ; as a portrait of a novelist, it is unworthy of the Girl's Friend; as a piece of dramatic construction it could be played with a roll of drums, like the cavortings of an adolescent trapeze artist.

From the initial disclosure, twist after twist leads us to the denouement, which might warm the heart of a lapsed Salvation Army corporal. Mr. Williams has written the most false and vulgar play it has been my lot to see in many years of theatre-going.

ROBERTSON HARE Another split personality, the eketric Hare called Robertson, is acting in Will Any Gentleman (STRAND), the funniest farce in London. With Mr. Arthur Riscoe. Mr. Hare again runs the gamut of pain, pleasure and tribulation reserved for righteousness. Here he fluctuates between great lover-in modified spiv suiting

-and his own good self. It is grand fun.

Mr. Aubrey Dexter's Soldier Boy (EMBASSY) is an intelligent play, which needs a little more engineering before the best, dramatically, will emerge. It should be brought to a central London theatre. The author's own performance, alone, makes a fine evening of entertainment. He is a very good actor.

A more old-fashioned Vaudeville (Peammenng) programme is being presented by Mr. Vat Parnell, Nat, King, Cole, Mr. Larry Adler, Mr. Will Mahoney and-best of all-Ted Ray, head a pleasant bill of fare.

blog comments powered by Disqus