Page 1, 6th April 1945

6th April 1945
Page 1

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Locations: New York, Edinburgh, Rome


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London is trying to get itself used to another miracle play— Father Matachy's Miracle which ran for nine months in New York.

What will you think of ' it? If you are a Catholic and a Bruce

Marshall fan you will love it ; if you're a Catholic and have never encountered the Bruce Marshall angle on things you may get a chock ; if you're not a Catholic and a Bruce Marshall fan you'll at least know what to expect: but if you're not a Catholic and arc not familiar with the Marshall line of country then not only will you get a shock but will also be profoundly shocked.

Mr. Brian Doherty has adapted the play from the novel and the story is this: An Edinburgh parish priest, Canon Geoghegan, brings a quiet little monk, Fr. Malachy, out of his monastery to teach the choir how to sing plain chant.

Check by jowl with the church is a palais de dance whose raucous, heathen noises and tawdry cacaphony assaults the ears of both the shepherd and his flock. Backing the dance ball in his modernistic compromise with Babylon (" you can have the girls and boys on Saturday if I can have them on Sunday --and I don't mind if they hold hands in church ") is the Anglican divine. Fr. Malachy and he become involved in tk discussion about miracles and the argument land-s the monk into asserting that God still performs miracles and that he himself will be the instrument of one by causing the offending dance hall to be moved to any part of the world that the Anglican divine shall choose.

The miracle is accomplished and the action of the story is thenceforward concerned with the reactions of the

police (had Fr. Malachy a permit to move a building ?), cashers-in on the publicity and how much money can be made out of it, the press, the B.B.C. ("the Government has so far made no statement and appeals to the public to maintain the calm and dignity which they showed in the general strike") and the Church itself. The nearer the members of the Church are to Fr. Malachy the more enthusiastic they are about the miracle and he soon has the curate. the Canon and the dour Scots bishop firmly on his side. But Rome sends Cardinal Pietti to point out that the Church cannot accept this breakneck pace in declaring the event a miracle and, in effect. tells Fr. Malachy not to do it again. Ile doesn't. But he does forget for a moment and works his miracle in reverse—and the dance hall in all its blatant vulgarity comes back to mingle its squawks with the Tantunt Ergo.

That's the story. What is its message ? It seems to me that it aims to show the terrific power accumulated in a lifetime of prayer and meditation by the small monk, pitted against the jerry-built. vuh■ar, cheap, unco-ordinated. untidy mss of present-day living with its waste of youth and its terror of truth. The expose is quite merciless and the author almost makes us feel

that the case is hopeless. True, the miracle makes one sinner repent and perhaps with that Fr. Malachy was well content.

Most of the shocks are in the dialogue, and on the first night it was probably the Catholics in the audience who laughed at the " Marshallisms " and the'non-Catholics who " could not take them." Because there arc moments when this play is very much a "family" affair; when the Church is violently divided against itseltScots versus Italian—and when. in the heat of the moment. the Scots bishop says things he should not to the Cardinal. Incidentally, even Catholics will blink at the appearance of the Cardinal. who apparently travels vested as for a church ceremony.)

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