Page 6, 3rd October 1980

3rd October 1980
Page 6
Page 6, 3rd October 1980 — The Passion; Part One and Two: National Theatre THE PASSION,

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The Passion; Part One and Two: National Theatre THE PASSION,

like the Morte D'Arthur is a nisnomer. The bulk of the plays deals with the history of salvation before Christ's suffering. Part Two was first performed at the Cotteslow in 1977 and PartOne this year at the Edinburgh Festival.

Together at the Cottesloe again, they can be managed on successive nights. When one considers that they are merely small selections from the York and Wakefield mystery plays it becomes clear that anything like a real revival of this folk drama would require a whole holiday to stage.

Stage at the Cottesloe is not the right word. for the production is a 'promenade'. which means you don't getsa seat. The audience mingles with the actors.

Song of Lion: Westminster A ONE-MAN show with Hugh Manning as C. S. Lewis. A fine performance and increasingly compelling action, marred only by the occasional use of puppets, intended to provide relief, but succeeding in breaking attention.

A little knowledge of Lewis is assumed. and the biography given is selective: there is not much about the War, Mrs Moore, Warnie's drinking or Lewis's professional work as tutor and critic (which really could not be staged).

Watch on the Rhine: National Theatre LILLIAN HELLMAN wrote "Watch on the Rhine" in 1940 in order to arouse the conscience of the United States in relation to the dangers of Fascism. Lillian Hellman is an accomplished playwright. Perhaps it is because her skill and her heart were involved in this play that it is so good.

The immediate message of Nazism is, of course, no longer relevant in the present revival at the Lyttleton Theatre but the play holds one spellbound, Actors, even those at the National Theatre, cannot create from nothing and however good the performance if the text is inferior their efforts are wasted. If on the other hand the play is good as in Oklahoma: Palace Theatre.

OKLAHOMA is back in London at the Palace Theatre, I remember the impact it made when it first came to the West End. It heralded a new type of musical. Sitting at the Palace Theatre and enjoying every minute of it I now wondered why it had been The ideal would be the morrisdancing principle of separate performances in different parts of the town. But it does rain.

The Cottesloe's small auditorium is filled with a smoke amid which God (Brian Glover) and Lucifer (Jack Shepherd) appear atop fork-lift trucks. It seemed to me they in particular hammed it up. There is no grounds for thinking the role of God a comic one in the text. Conversely, Mr and Mrs Noah, who should have been funny and rude were not,

The script retains the delightful English alliterative verse. Original pronunciation would have made it more mcdodious, but incomprehensible. Moving stuff especially for Christians, but audience attention wandered during the more familiar life of Christ scenes.


One thesis or this play by Daniel Pearce is that Lewis suffered from the early death of his mother and feared an unjust father figure. Mrs Moore and his wife Joy were both taken away from him by his adopted father God. "Why should God be good'?" asks the despairing Lewis after his wife's death.

Out of the destruction by God of the house of cards Lewis had built up, he sees that his desire, that old desire for 'Joy', can be satisfied by God alone, whom finally he meets in a blaze of light.

this case, then the actors can make it memorable.

One expects Peggy Ashcroft to give a fine performance and as the-grandmother in the American country house she is impeccable. The setting of the Farrelly country house outside Washington has been imaginatively designed by Eileen Diss.

When the play was originally produced in London during the war. the part of Kurt Muller was played by Anton Walbrook, and if 1 recall correctly, in the film by Paul Henricd. Both actors were .a by-word for Continental charm, whereas at the National Theatre, David Burke plays the part with a kind of gauche sincerity that is irrestible. Susan Engel as his wife and Pauline Jameson, and indeed everyone, including the three children, are excellent. J.K.

thought so new? Looking back with nostalgia on the Palace Theatre productions, is it so different from King's Rhapsody and Song of Norway? This is speculation but it is true to say that this production of Oklahoma is excellent. No doubt the older generation will flock to see and hear it again and those who were too young might also enjoy it.

J.K. C.S.H.

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