Page 9, 25th November 1938

25th November 1938
Page 9
Page 9, 25th November 1938 — STRANGE AUDIENCE AT LONDON THEATRE
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STRANGE AUDIENCE AT LONDON THEATRE

Six Hundred Priests Had Permission to Attend

By a C.H. Reporter About six hundred priests accepted the invitation of Leslie French and Alan Hay to a special matinee performance of Traitors' Gate on Monday.

Cardinal Hinsley had granted special per mission for the clergy to attend. It was the first time such permission had been given.

The foyer of the Duke of Yorks presented an unusual appearance as priests in ones, twos and threes came in, presented their cards, and were given the freedom of the house.

Commissionaires and attendants seemed to have felt that this was a special occasion.

Seculars and regulars (all reduced to the anonymity of the roman collar and blacks). Young and old—but I think the younger generation predominated, flocked in.

"I never saw so many parsons in my life," said an attendant, glancing backwards towards me for a reassuring lay wink.

By 2,30 there was a " good house," a very good house—enough unction to make holy the most worldly of theatres.

Unstinting Praise From the moment the curtain rose it seemed that the company, which has in divers places gained praise unstinting, had set itself to excel, to justify the dispensation of a Cardinal, and to satisfy an audience which could perhaps better than any appreciate and criticise such a play as Traitors' Gate.

Equally from the end of the first charming scene it was obvious that this very special audience was satisfied.

The applause was spontaneous, loud and prolonged—beyond the measure of normal appreciation.

For the players it must have been a special satisfaction that one or two of the more learned and technical lines got not an isolated laugh, but a chuckle from a whole audience.

Not " Pia Fabula "

During the short intervals there were comings and goings; all seemed content, even anxious, to discuss the play, its merits and its sincerity.

After the final curtain the applause was astonishingly prolonged and energetic, and as individual members of the cast took " a hand," it was obvious that enjoyment had been of a play not a religious exercise, not a " pia fabula." So it was that Thomas Cromwell got a reception from this audience which outdid all others except Thomas More in volume which, to use a Gallicism, must have been of a "candeur candide."

As the pastors, parish priests, preachers, teachers, left the theatre, the impression formed of the reception was strengthened by individual judgments.




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