Page 6, 16th November 1956

16th November 1956
Page 6
Page 6, 16th November 1956 — CLARE SIMON at The Theatre

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CLARE SIMON at The Theatre

Threepenny Opera with three gods

TOP in interest this week, though not perhaps in entertainment value, is the Brecht play, " The Good Woman of Setzuan," at the Royal Court.

This is the first full-scale production of a Brecht play in English, although there were sonic successful productions in German during the year.

he difficulties were formidable: the result is surprising. First it must be emphasised that there is no easy sitting back and relaxing during a Brecht plat : the moment you begin to enjoy a scene for its own sake. the lights dim. there are great shiftings of scenert and some pretentious bore or other out of the story conies forward and explains to the audience what the have already seen for themselves.

Given the endurance for this and for some interminable Threepenny Opera tt pe dirges, the plat is worth seeing.

THE story begins with three gods

apostle-like figures in cardboard mitres) descending to earth to see if they can find even one good person. Many a play has been founded on this idea and it is no surprise when they meet up tt ith a good-hearted prpstitute. With the money they leave her as a reward she open a tobacco shop. However, she is so good that she has to invent and take the part of an astute male cousin who puts all the parasites who descend on her in their proper places.

That, roughly. is the story. The flaw seems to he that Shen Te. the prostitute. is not good so much as weak. Real goodness is quite capable of noticing if its change is a halfpenny short. although it may riot act upon it.

Peggy Ashcroft makes a thoroughly nasty, tobacco-spitting little piece of work out the cousin

an incredibly refined prostitute out of Shen Te.

But the evening is worth it if only for the magnificent sight of the three gods being slov,Is and creakingly drawn up in a cloud at the end.

IF " The Good Woman of Set Limn " suggests a duller, longer Threepenne Opera, then "The Bald-headed Primadonna" at the Arts has a grotesque flavour of Flint's " Family' Reunion."

The clich├ęs of suburbia uttered in tones of doom. the emit circling among the tables and chairs. the intrusive cuckoo-clock. could he a brilliant satire on the Mrs. Dale type of household done by a Frenchman.

In fact the humour is far more subtle than that and. as with alt the hest wit, one cannot quite analyise why one laughs.

Best of all is David Horne as the visiting fireman who takes his job so seriously that he cannot hear to sec a match lighted. Robert Eddison and Jill Rennet ere also in the cast and the double hill is completed by "The New Tenant," equally made equally hilarious.

IF the subject of Noel Coward's new play, " Nude with Violins." had been a playwright instead of an artist he would certainly have had a few nasty things to say about plays like "The Bald-Headed Prima-Donna."

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