Inaminum THEATRE: By W. J. IGOE IlIlTlIIIlIltllIIr CORK, July 2, 1954. The sights, '-'sounds, scents of Ireland, the crowds filling the churches like traffic in the London underground stations, the fresh tones multiplied to infinity, the chance encounters and the exhausting sport of trapping the baby with a box camera in the garden, all compete with Mr. Carl Clopet's programmes at the only theatre within striking distance—the Cork Opera House,
What chance have Mr. Clopet's excellent mimes when the reviewer is still bemused by the view from the clubhouse window over the golf course at Killarney, drunk with the sights from the car as it climbed to Lady's View, when one has seen that fantastic gentle pattern of lush, tough greenery, wide, delicately shaped loughs. sombre blue mountains? Melleray stood, lovely, like a stone silver lighthouse on a cold misty plane that reached to the mountains. Drama criticism and first nights were far away.
THE Opera House in Cork is a
friendly theatre situated on a bank of the River Lee. There Mr. Clopet plays benevolent, one hears, Svengali to the team of players who presently regale citizens of and visitors to the capital of the south-west. Mr. Clopet's aim seems to be to skim the cream off West End successes. He performs the operation adroitly.
Looking over the list of plays Mr. Clopet has chosen for presentation in this city I cannot but congratulate him on his taste and showmanship.
For example, "His Excellency." currently running. which I saw twice in London. with Mr. Eric Portman and Mr. Donald Wolfit, each in his way admirable in the leading role, is a play that combines intelligent content with first-rate entertainment values, giving the sort of part to the leading man which actors define as "a gift." The story of a working man, a trade union leader. who reaches a position in the political world which launches him as Governor of a colony not unlike Malta, has, one suspects. a special appeal to the republican democrats who are building the new Irish State.
In the republic the humour of an ex-agitator representing an English monarch may he appreciated with a keenness rather different, one conjectures, from what it received in the West End.
I am sorry I missed Mr. Raymond Dyer's interpretation of "His Excellency," for Mr. Dyer is an actor I would describe as something of an old soldier of the playhouse. He is an excellent player and is determined that his audience is going to be subdued; he knows every trick of subjugation. It was a joy to watch. him in another play taming the audience until it would have jumped, en masse or one by one, through suitably designed paper hoops had he given the word of command.
That was in "It Won't be a Stylish Marriage," a kitchen farce which, although it was praised by the Manchester Guardian, eluded me during its London presentation.
A variation on the old Daddy Longlegs theme, it tells of an orphan girl rated by two old soldiers and one old matelot to an age when she wishes the company of younger men —at least in her spare time. The old men, burdened with their old soldiers' and sailor's lore of the wicked world, insist on acting as perpetual body and soul guards to their charge and the humours, involving, too, a widow who has designs, are innocent and uproarious.
For this production, Mr. Clopet brought to Cork that bundle of enchanting misery, Mr. Horace Kenney, a brilliantly funny clown of the old school whose casual cunning—the assembly of sartorial detail clashing in his wedding garments was contrived, for example, with stunning guile—built a performance of classic humour. I hope to see Mr. Kenney soon again and nearer home than Cork.
A MONO plays projected for this .1-kseason are strongly constructed thrillers, comedies which rely on humour wholly, and the old sturdy "East Lynne"—which will give Mr. Dyer a chance to wear whiskers.
It is London's fell method to try out new productions on other cities; Mr. Clopet seems to have turned the tables on London. In Cork he is presenting plays that successfully have been tried out in the West End. He is taking the pick of many season' crops. He is assisted ably by his company, among whom one should mention Mr. James Liggat, Miss Phoebe Bradley-Williams and Mr. John Cronin, a young player of admirable style and quiet intelligence.