Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

This production is described as "a stage sermon of the great betrayal", and is partly imaginary and partly taken direct from the Bible narrative. In the first act certain "Roman Governors" discuss the teaching of Christ from the Roman governor point of view, but one of them, Lucius, is impressed by the words of an arrested follower. We then have the miracle of the raising of the widow's dead son: this takes place off the stage, on which are gathered the widow and her friends, the restored son subsequently entering. In act II the "Roman governors" again discourse about the Nazarene and develop theories of hypnotism and so on. Lucius, now a convert, is brought on and persuades his betrothed also to become a follower of the Master. Judas is tempted by the 30 pieces of silver and also by the allurements of Gratia, a courtesan. He betrays Christ and subsequently repents. In the first scene of act III we are in a corridor leading to the Justice Hall. Pilate's wife relates her dream and begs Pilate not to condemn Christ. Then the audience is shown Pilate on his "Chair of Justice" (but not the rest of the Court). Pilate's questions proceed a in the Bible, with some additions, and he washes his hands at the end. In the second scene the Crucifixion is supposed to have taken place and at a meeting of followers an eye-witness relates what has happened. Judas enters and reiterates his despair. A letter from the author accompanying the play claims that no member of the Holy Family appears in it - this having previously been a requirement of the Lord Chamberlain - and that is true. Christ however, though not appearing, is supposed to be seen by Pilate and his wife - act III, page 2. The invented portion of the play is poorly written, but there is nothing irreverent in it. As will have been noticed from the above analysis, nothing is added to any Biblical person except the connection of a woman with Judas - which has been done before in a play. But undoubtedly the play with its incorporation of real Biblical incidents and language closely resembles a Passion play without the figure of Christ. Some years ago such a play would not have been allowed, but in recent years we have had plays produced dealing with New Testament history and having the approval of the clergy. In my opinion the bulk of this play is inoffensive, but the scene (act III, scene 1) of Pilate's questions actually being put and answered as in the Bible would shock too greatly on the stage of a theatre. If I might make the suggestion, it might be as well to have the opinion of an ecclesiastical authority. Personally I think the play might be given with the exception of the scene just mentioned, and with that exception it is recommended for Licence. P.S. But it is extremely undesirable that it should be given as part of a music-hall show.

Licensed On: 30 May 1916

License Number: 269

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British Library Reference: LCP1916/13

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66134 B

Performances

DateTheatreType
9 Jun 1916 Hippodrome, HuddersfieldUnknown Licensed Performance