THEATRE by Gerard Noel
IT was amusing to see a star theatre critic, writing in one of the London "evenings," taking playwright Henry Cecil to task for not observing legal forms, and then referring to Moira Lister's leading role as being that of the "co-respondent."
There is, in fact, no such a thing as a female corespondent in divorce cases (any more than there is such a thing as a "registry office" for marriages.) Rather is there a "woman named", hence the title of the new comedy at the Duke of York's, A Woman Named Anne.
The author's real name is Harry Leon, who presided over a County Court in Harrow, Middlesex, for many years, and whose monthly visits to the High Court to try divorce cases as a Commissioner were greatly looked f2rward to, at least by the Judge himself. He now makes good use of his memory and imagination.
As with all his ingenious writings, this is another long legal joke with a trick ending. You would be tempted to say that the law was an ass indeed, were it not for the "learned" authorship. As it is you may conclude that you are an ass to go to law, having had such a good, if caricatured, glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes. This gives William Mervyn as the sardonic judge, and Hugh Manning and Arthur Howard as opposing counsel wide scope for portraying berthh and bar as the public do not see them.
In technical skill—the whole charade is technical rather than
human—they are o n 1 y outshone by Moira Lister herself who has a tiring time, being in the witness box for almost the whole two hours and a quarter. The run may not be long enough to produce total exhaustion.
An excellent "cameo" by Ramond Bowers as the inquiry agent enlivens the whole affair just when it is most needed.