Category Archives: Theatre

‘Loyalties’

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, […]

Shell-Shock and magic: ‘The Enchanted Cottage’ (1924)

When I first heard of the 1924 film The Enchanted Cottage I was told it belonged to the vast legion of the many, many lost silent movies. Then I learned from the useful Silent Era website that a print did exist in the Library of Congress archive. And now a DVD is on sale from […]

Doctor Scroggy’s War

For his new play at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, Howard Brenton has chosen to tell the story of one of the most remarkable men of the Great War. Harold Gillies (a New Zealander) was the pioneer of plastic surgery in Britain, developing remarkable techniques to help men with broken faces. Among the most successful of these […]

Ethel Mannin on ‘Journey’s End’

Ethel Mannin This month at the Reading 1900-1950 reading group we’re looking at the work of Ethel Mannin. I’m reading her Confessions and Impressions (1930), an alternately fascinating and annoying book of memoirs. I was struck by her comments on Journey’s End: The reason why we have so little great art of any kind today […]

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