time who can write for the theatre of today and write within the limits of its conventions?
ask this eller seeing two recent productions. One of them was Edgar Lee Masters's Spoon River, at the Royal Court Theatre. This was a poetical anthology of half a century ago. The other night it was the Royal Shakespeare Company's presentation of The Rebel at the Aldwych.
This is .‘in Anthology of writing by and about rebels. There wes a piece from Hoffmen's Story and a piece from Robert Emmett's speech from the dock. We had a bit of Abraham Lincoln and a piece by Malcolm M tiggeridge from Encounter.
This was presented to us as an intellectual exercise in reading. Perhaps it is. But it is simply not theatre and it is not good enough that one of our leading theatres should resort to such a mediocre bill of fare.
True. we heard some interesting extracts, Some of them would have provided an excellent theme for a /slay. But leafing through a digest is not the same RS devourlog a work of art in its own right.
This was particularly evident in the treatment of the colour problem. Surely this is a firstclass subject for a full-length play. Why, then, were we fobbed off with a few bits and pieces about this issue?
Sufficiently loud crying over spilt milk may prevent similar aecidents in the future. And even allowing for the limitations of the formula, whatwas actually presented to us did not measure tip to entertainment.
Robert Emmett is lof course. ideally suited to the "rebel" theme, but the director ought surely to have remembered that not so long ego. on the boards of the same theatre, Michael Mac Liammoir treated us to his superb interpretation of the same last speech of this most [anions of rebels. Comparison would be odious, It is surely time that theatre managers came to realise that something which may be enjoyable when seen from the back stalls of the local cinema, or from the comfort of an armchair placed before a television set, just does not transform to the stage.
Drabness, for some odd reasms, dues not appear quite so depressing on film as it does in the theatre land let it be said at once that even on films be they TV or cinema -we have been having just a little too much of the dreary side of life in recent times).
'The perfect example of all if this is Woman in a Dressing Gown. The play. by Lord Willis, who is better known as Ted, had some succesi both as a film and ivainliete.levision. I doubt if this success will follow it to the Vaude
The story is about a woman (Brenda Bruce) who faces the loss of her husband because he finds home-life — and his wife just too drab for words. He becomes attracted to his secretary and there would he few seeing the play who would not sut right along with him.
As the wife, Brenda Bruce gives a fine performance. Few other actresses could sustain for so long such a complete picture of muddle and confusion, Few other actresses could go through an evening on stage in a sloppy old dressing gown and still have the audience with her.
But for my part. I would rather that she had not been forced to do so. If only, for a moment, there had been something to lighten both her load and that of the audience.
I hope very much that when next Lord Willis writes a play he will remember that people do still go to the theatre to be entertained.