Great War Theatre

Researcher's Summary:

The Birmingham Daily Post, 19 September 1917, in a review of John Drinkwater’s 'Pawn. Three Poetic Plays', comments that Lascelles Abercrombie’s 'The End of the World' and Gordon Bottomley’s 'King Lear’s Wife' ‘are declared the two masterpieces of Neo-Georgian poetic drama’. The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 15 December 1926, reported that the Interlude Theatre Guild hoped to present a programme of 'uncommercial' plays at the Blackfriars Theatre between January and June 1927, performing a selection of plays from a list which included 'The End of the World' by Lascelles Abercrombie. The Gloucester Citizen, Thursday 13 October 1932, reported that 'The End of the World' by Lascelles Abercrombie, ‘a strongly dramatic play in blank verse’ set in a public house in a Gloucestershire village, was to be broadcast ‘from the Western Regional station’ the following night. Mr. T. Hannam-Clark was to take the part of Huff the farmer. The Scotsman, 3 March 1950, in an article discussing verse drama, noted, ‘The one writer [in modern times] who, perhaps, came nearest to solving the problem was Lascelles Abercrombie who evolved … a dramatic verse uninflated and entirely modern in its rhythms. Abercrombie, a master of verse technique, wrote in “The End of the World" a play which has something of the fantasy of [Christopher] Fry, and the verse he wrote it in, while not departing so sharply from tradition as Fry’s does, is yet colloquial in tone’.

Licensed On: 5 Sep 1914

License Number: 2915

British Library Reference: LCP1914/28

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66076 N


12 Sep 1914 Repertory Theatre, BirminghamProfessional Licensed Performance
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'a social comedy, which is only spoiled by a slightly excessive length' (Stage, 17 September 1914)
12 Sep 1914 Repertory Theatre, BirminghamProfessional
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The Birmingham Mail, Saturday 12 September 1914, advertised at the Repertory Theatre that night The End of the World by Lascelles Abercrombie for ‘the first time on any stage’ and Samuel Foote’s comedy The Liar. The Birmingham Daily Gazette, Monday 14 September 1914 advertised the plays ‘for one week’ (hence the suggested closing date of Saturday the 19th). ‘There some real mind-stuff and soul-stuff in Mr. Lascelles Abercrombie’s new poetic drama, “The End of the World,” produced with acceptance for the first time at the Birmingham Repertory on Saturday by Mr. John Drinkwater, The play will be welcome to all who value the drama of poetry and character, distinct from the drama of well-contrived incident and mere traits of character. Mr. Abercrombie allows a mysterious stranger to send a little village community into a frantic panic about the end of world, and by this simple device - a by means improbable one - he makes a group of typical country folk reveal their fundamental selves in the stress of what they believe to be an elemental catastrophe. The masks are taken off. There is the strong evangelical farmer who curses his wife to perdition for running off with a labourer, and yet who wishes he had not starved himself of passion when he had had the chance. The labourer, with his soul in peril, discards the woman, and the theory that “love is all” by which he lured her away. She, in turn, scorns them both as the scales fall off, and dances away A whimpering publican finds his only consolation in the fact that he will be able to tell his dead dragon of a wife such a tale as will silence even her. Then there is a blacksmith, half philosopher, and a wainwright who cannot drink even free cider in such a cataclysm; he blends sudden fury and gentle fear. The touch of rational humour never lacking among the most superstitious is brought by a molecatcher, admirably played by Mr. Dodd, who tells them all that instead of a destroying star they have been watching the farmer’s rick on fire. The chief fault of the play is that these village folk do not merely slip into poetry, as most village folk do in the great tides of emotion, but talk the poetry of Mr. Lascelles Abercrombie; they are too self-consciously literary; not direct enough. Not so is the fresh spring of wit and fancy in Synge’s “Play Boy,” nor the rich Biblical idiom of Masefield’s “Nan.” But when the players have got a surer hold of the play the power and depth of it will grip even those to whom it is strange and remote; for “The End of the World” is not far from being a great play touched with genius’. Birmingham Daily Gazette, 14 September 1914. ‘Mr. Lascelles Abercrombie is to be complimented upon much really clever work in his new play, “The End of the World,” which had a most favourable reception at the Repertory Theatre on Saturday evening, and when some of the players get a little better grasp of their roles this poetic drama should have a successful run. A mysterious and gloomy stranger makes his appearance in a village inn, and predicts the near approach of the crack of doom. The village is thrown into a panic In the inn are the wiseacres of the village, and a good variety of characters in a farmer, a wainwright, a smith, a labourer, and a publican. In this dread hour we see the souls of these men bared. There is both humour and pathos. The chief regret of the publican seems to be that his wife is not alive to see the sight. The ending the play is humorous, a molecatcher bringing relief to these stricken and credulous people with the news that the mysterious light taken to be the all-destroying star is nothing more serious than a rick on fire. Mr. Felix Aylmer and Mr. Joseph Dodd deserve chief congratulation upon their acting’. Evening Despatch, 14 September 1914:
26 Oct 1914 Theatre Royal, BristolProfessional
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Western Daily Press, Tuesday 27 and Friday 30 October 1914 published advertisements for Miss Muriel Pratt’s season at the Theatre Royal, Bristol, showing the first production of John Masefield’s ‘Philip The King’ and Lascelles Abercrombie’s ‘The End of the World’. A different show was advertised for the following week. ‘There is an unusually interesting programme at the Theatre Royal this week, inasmuch as two new plays by distinguished poets are being performed. They are “Philip the King,” by Mr John Masefield, and “The End of the World,” by Mr Lascelles Abercrombie … [“The End of the World”] reads better than it plays. The odd types of villagers (who imagine a comet is going to destroy the world), though well-acted, are not so humorous as might have been expected. It is a pleasant, quietly amusing piece of work, but much of the poetry of it is out of place in the mouths of the characters who speak it. Mr Brember Wills, Mr Carey, Mr Marsh Dunn, and Mr Denton Thompson did all that could be done with the characters. Both plays were produced by Miss Muriel Pratt. There will be a matinée on Thursday’. Western Daily Press, Tuesday 27 October 1914. ‘There is an unusually interesting programme at the Theatre Royal this week, inasmuch as two new plays by distinguished poets are being performed. They are “Philip the King,” by Mr John Masefield, and “The End of the World,” by Mr Lascelles Abercrombie … “The End of the World,” by Mr Lascelles Abercrombie is a study which is a mixture of psychology and humour. The two acts take place in a public-house in a rural neighbourhood. The village ale tipsters are led to believe that the end of the world is at hand, with the result that some queer specimens of mental attitude towards life are revealed. Warp, the mole catcher, saves the situation by revealing the fact that the supposed awful conflagration is merely a rick on fire. Mr. Brendon [sic - Brember] Wills impersonated Huff, a quite remarkable farmer, with his customary skill; as Vine, the publican, Mr. B. March Dunn gave another of his delightful Devonshire sketches; and Mr. J. Denton Thompson hit off the mole-catcher to the life. The remaining characters were also in able hands’. Clifton Society, 29 October 1914.
4 Mar 1920 Playhouse, LiverpoolProfessional
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The Liverpool Echo, 1 March 1920, advertised at the Playhouse four ‘special matinees’ at 4pm on Thursday 4 and 11 March and Tuesday 9 and 16 March of ''The End of the World' and 'The Staircase' by Lascelles Abercrombie.
9 Dec 1920 Houldsworth Hall, Deansgate, ManchesterUnknown
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‘The Little Theatre, Manchester, will be opened at the Houldsworth Hall, Deansgate, on October 25, with performances of A. de Musset’s “A Caprice,” and “The Veil of Illusion,” by Georges Clemenceau. Three performances will be given. On December 9 10, and 11 a further three performances of “King Lear’s Wife,” by Gordon Bottomley, and “The End of the World,” by Lascelles Abercrombie, will carry the activities of the theatre a step further’. The Stage, 7 October 1920.
11 Feb 1921 University of Bristol, BristolAmateur
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‘The dramatic performance of “The End of the World,” by Lascelles Abercrombie, and “The Queen’s Enemies,” by Lord Dunsany, on February 11 and 12, in the Physiological Lecture Theatre [at the University of Bristol], will be given by the women students of the Education Department, in aid of the “Save the Children Fund”'. Western Daily Press, 10 February 1921.
20 Mar 1938 [No Theatre Listed], Unknown
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‘Lascelles Abercrombie’s “End of the World” and Moliere’s “Les Precieuses Ridicules,” both one-act plays, will be presented by the Contemporary Theatre, Finchley-road, March 20 and 27’. The Era, 17 March 1938.