Category Archives: Theatre

‘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 […]

Arnold Bennett and a knighthood

There was an enjoyable programme about Arnold Bennett on Radio 4 yesterday (still available on iPlayer). Deborah Moggach and Giles Brandreth gave a lively account of his life and talked enthusiastically about his novels, agreeing that The Old Wives’ Tale was the best (which is fair enough, though I have an especial fondness for Riceyman […]

Discussing ‘Oh What a…’

Radio 3 discussion of Oh What a lovely War fifty years on. Good account of the play’s impact at the time, and Murray Melvin very interesting on how scenes were improvised. Also good on Littlewood’s delicacy of touch. She was a marvellous director. The programme touched only slightly on the play’s sometimes-dodgy and simplistic version […]

Toller’s ‘Draw the Fires’

Ernst Toller’s Feuer aus den Kesseln was written in 1930, and a translation (as Draw the Fires) was performed in Manchester in 1935 (by the Theatre of Action company, directed by Joan Littlewood). I’m something of a connoisseur of shot-at-dawn narratives, and what I find interesting about this one is that it is quite unlike […]

Lawrence’s ‘The Daughter-in-Law’

Seeing a first-rate production of The Daughter-in-Law at the Sheffield Crucible has reminded me of what a very good writer D.H.Lawrence could be before the War threw him badly off-kilter. The play was written in 1912 and its premise is simple. Luther Gascoyne, coal-miner and mother’s boy, has finally got round to marrying Minnie, a […]


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