Category Archives: Theatre

‘Red for Danger’ by Evadne Price

With my interest in Evadne Price rekindled by Matt Houlbrook’s biography of Netley Lucas, I thought I’d take a look at one of the novels she wrote after her stint as ‘Helen Zenna Smith’. Red For Danger (1936) belongs to that quintessential inter-war genre, the comedy thriller. There is a plot based on crime, big […]

Modern Troubadours

Thanks to Ann-Marie Einhaus for pointing me towards Lena Ashwell’s 1922 book  Modern Troubadours, an account of the musical and theatrical troupes organised by Miss Ashwell, which took entertainment to soldiers in France and elsewhere. (A digital versioncan be found at the Internet Archive.) Ive just had a skim through so far, and I’m particularly […]

‘Horniman’s Choice’ at the Finborough

You could write the significant history of English theatre in the twentieth century by tracing the careers of three dynamic women: Annie Horniman, Lilian Baylis and Joan Littlewood. Of these, Horniman is probably the least known, but when she took over the Gaiety Theatre in Manchester a hundred years ago, it was the beginning of […]


John Galswortnhy’s 1922 play Loyalties includes one of the more interesting twenties portrayals of an ex-soldier. Captain Ronald Dancey has most of the military virtues – dash, courage, resolution – but has not done well in the peacetime world. The play brings him into conflict with Ferdinand de Levis, rich and successful in everything he […]

Allan Monkhouse at the Finborough.

Annie Horniman The tiny Finborough Theatre in West London is one of my favourites. Like the Orange Tree at Richmond, it finds part of the British theatrical heritage that the National Theatre and the RSC don’t seem to be remotely aware of. This September and October, the Finborough programme will include Horniman’s Choice, a quartet […]

Toplis again

The figure of the petty criminal Percy Toplis, and the (almost certainly mistaken) notion that he was a crucial ringleader of the Etaples mutiny of 1917, had a great attraction for left-wing writers of the 1970s and early 1980s. I’ve already written about the treatment of Toplis by Alan Bleasdale in the TV series The […]

Ernie Lotinga in ‘Josser in the Army’

In June 1927, T. S. Eliot wrote to Virginia Woolf: Have just been to see Ernie Lotinga in his new Play at the Islington Empire. Magnificent. He is the greatest living British histrionic artist, in the purest tradition of British Obscenity. Until recently I thought that almost all Lotinga’s film work had been lost, apart […]

‘Oh What a Lovely War’ on tour

It’s over fifty years since I first saw Oh What a Lovely War at Wyndham’s Theatre in London. The anniversary revival at Stratford East gained some good reviews last year, so I took the opportunity yesterday to catch up with the touring version of the production at  Manchester Opera House. I went with mixed feelings. […]

Kipling, ‘Lyde’, Lloyd and Lauder

The Kipling Journal arrived yesterday. The journal is now eedited by Janet Montefiore, who seems to be full of good ideas, especially about special issues devoted to a particular Kipling topic. This issue concentrates on Kipling’s poetry, and includes a range of his poems, each with a commentary by an expert or enthusiast. All are […]

A. A. Milne’s ‘The Boy Comes Home’

There’s a silver lining Through the dark clouds shining, Turn the dark cloud inside out ‘Til the boys come home. Thanks to Simon Thomas for pointing me in the direction of A. A. Milne’s 1918 one-act play The Boy Comes Home (included in First Plays, online at Project Gutenberg). At the Victoria Palace in September, […]