THEATRE: By W. j. IGOE
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS (Royal Court)
THE entertainment is not the best of Shakespeare's comedies. The young poet's intention was confused by a selected traditional technique; his accomplishment rests in the deft situational use of two sets of identical twins, a device conscripted in later years by a swarm of hacks for melodrama and comedy.
Shakespeare made it a basis for farce. But, youthfully, he drowned his admirable manipulation of the characters in the tedious. punning, plebeian verbosity the Elizabethans. apparently found a "fair scream." He wanted a "hit" and, knowing his audience, succeeded. for the play was constantly revived. To contemporary taste the Dromios, the serving twins. receptacles of the broad comedy. are as funny as a dockyard agitator with toothache.
The young playwright chose a classical Italian model and was deter mined to be correct. He over-disciplined himself. Rigidly he eschewed the poetic muse; the theme, which is the gaming, so to speak, of the shrew Adriana by circumstances arising from the visit of her husband's longlost twin to Ephesus—a comedy situation—disappears in farcical situations proliferating. The form became as inhibiting as a coffin. The poet was silenced by the farce-maker.
Now we may see that Adriana is a note for the Katherina of three years later. when the matured artist gave her life abundant and a man. Petruchin who gamed her to tame and make of the shrew a wife.
USTIFIABLY Mr. Rupert Doone
and Mr. Roy M. Walker, producers for the Group Theatre, have taken the original tightly woven doughy mass, cut judiciously and liberally dou.sed it in the ice-sugar of dance and decor; they re-dress the characters in a nutty style of Edwardian Levantine. The old junket consequently attains the appearance of a Hallowe'en Cake designed by Mr. Cecil Beaton.
Perhaps they were too audacious in permitting Mr. Ernest Milton to wander about stage as Solinus in the opening scene, for Mr. Milton's general air of finding the world all too fleshy and devilish only in a boring way, sets a standard that few actors of his own generation find competitive and none among the minors can approach. The world, I suspect, seems shabby to Mr. Milton; he justifies the attitude by a demeanour that would make any place less than the Sistine Chapel appear sordid. If ever a man developed into the lines of a caricature by Max Beerbohm, of a kind, corrupted aristocrat, it is this stylist. To permit him on stage with younger performers almost demands the intervention of an R.S.P.C.A(ctors).
ifISS NEY'S Aemilia was calculated to end the piece on the note of sane stillness that heightens the absurdity of farce. Like Mr. Milton, her speaking sets an impossible standard for the unfledged sparrows who soar into stardom in today's West End.
The one actress in our theatre who might inspire a playwright to write a play, not a "vehicle" to engage her talents, Marie Ney has that rare quality. "spirit" formed by herself; by which I do not mean what commonly is described as temperament.
AFFAIRS OF STATE (Cambridge)
rrHIS hybrid French comedy with American characters played by English actors who reek of the parish of St. James's inoffensively passed the evening. That immaculately blanched fox. Mr. Wilfred Hyde White. always is a rewarding object for contemplative theatregoers, with his squinting smile and general air of findine everyone mildly dotty but tolerable. Miss Joyce Redman's flirtatious air of having great fun at the expense of a second-rate author is lovable. When is this exquisite actress
going to be seen in a play worthy of her talents?
Mr. Hugh Williams, resembling more and more Mr. Anthony Eden, plays, for the second time this year, an American politician; the performance is good. Miss Coral Browne. as ever, is easy on the eye; she walks through the part of a statesman's wife with the ironic poise of a Gaiety Duchess opening a boys' club in the Bethnal Green she knew as a girl.