By Gerard Tyrrell Tcontinental playwrights
of distinction have recently made very belated appearances on the London stage for the first time: lig° Betti, a Roman who died last year. and Fritz Hochwalder, a Swiss.
Betti was a judge of the Court of Cessation in his native city. During the war he wrote several comedies for Victor de Sica's company. of which Aununertime, the piece now at the Apollo, was one. It is a small play. and it is difficult to find a lot to sas abriut something which has very little to say for itself.
Let me only remark that it is on the theme that, wherever sou have a man whose devotion to himself is a model to the half-hearted, you will also find a woman willing to sacrifice herself on the altar of his ego. Alberto was about 20 and Francesca a little sounger: and she got him in the end. It passes the time. as one tramp in Goriot said to the other: very pleasantly, let me add.
mOWARDS the end of his time.
Betti found himself obsessed isy the theme of corruption in public life and the kind of totalitarian who arises to sweep it away. more accursed than the disease he comes to cure.
The play at the Haymarket, The Queen and Tlu, Rebels, finds him musing on the inhumanity of the political humanist, the unredeemed saviour of the masses. Betti probably belonged to the personalist school of thinker.
The theme of the play is that even a prostitute is a person and in the action a girl played by Miss Irene Worth is mistaken for a deposed queen. In face of the hatred of the new men and the mob. she assumes the royal dignity and impregnability of a queen, so that nothing becomes her in her life like the leaving of it.
The conception is worthy of a great play. Why, then, are so many unmoved by it? Because. I 'believe, in his very defence of the person Betti has depersonalised his heroine and her persecutors so that they lose elicit' dramatic identities and become attitudes and abstractions.
People are not conceptual syntheses, and if on the stage they become so they clo it at the cost of revolt and indifference among the audience. What is at issue becomes not a human life but a system of thought.
HOW differently and how successfully does Fritz Hochwelder go about it in The Strong Are Lonely ! Here is a play which looks like being another melodrama but manages before the curtain falls to engage evers body's attention at his own level on just those problems which Betti tries to universalise.
Hochwalder lets us do our own after-thinking; though we may perhaps at the time have seemed