Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

Except for a few passages, in Act 1 chiefly, the dialogue of this ‘musical burlesque’ though vulgar, is not definitely suggestive, and there is little to object to in Act 2 on any ground. Act 1, however, needs consideration. The scene is supposed to be in a government office in Whitehall, and after choruses of female clerks etc., satirising government methods ‘four ministers enter. One is English, one Scotch, one Welsh and one Irish.’ They sing songs, dance, drink and chaff. Pemberton Billing comes in to question them and is snubbed. A packing case is opened and discloses rip van winkle and the sleeping beauty, who is awakened by a kiss from the Welsh minister. ‘Pelfridge’ appears and engages rip and beauty for his ‘war circus sale’. Knowing the Lord Chamberlain's’ view of the undesirability of ridiculing ministers at this time I am inclined to advise that the whole business of minister’s should be cut out. In any case it must be ordered 1) that they are not made up to represent actual ministers, and 2) must not duo indecorous things. I have marked on pp7, 10, 15, 16 and 17 decidedly objectionable passages, and on p.12 a passage about German aliens which is perhaps beyond fair criticism - I think not. I notice also that on p.13 (c.f.p.20 and Act II scene 11, p.3) Beauty’s dress is indicated as scanty and a caution is needed. The first scene of act 2 satirizes the Marylebone borough council rather savagely and I should think the Marylebone body would protest strongly. Text satire is continued in scene 11, where the war circus is opened by a duchess who thinks she is opening an asylum-rather funny. The 3rd scene is a circus burlesque in dumb show. The 4th is a street scene which has for its chief point a discharged soldier, unable to get his pension, driven to burglary. This might be thought a slur on discharged soldiers, but is meant well, and it might be far-fetched to object: I should leave it alone. Scene V is a scene of various famous pepe awakened at night and a dialogue between a sleepless due and rip. It is followed by a burlesque of opera, and the whole concludes in scene VI with the familiar bar scene and jokes about treating and so forth. I have marked a suggestive line in scene V, p.5 with the reservation and recommendations about act 1, a doubt about the Marylebone council - with its butcher mayor and tipsy councillors - the piece is recommended for license. G. S. Street. I agree entirely; but I think the only way to keep on the safe side with authors such as these, is to cut out entirely the scene ridiculing ministers - especially undesirable just now - and also the savage skit upon the Marylebone council, which can only do mischief. Ernest A. Bendall.

Licensed On: 28 Aug 1916

License Number: 423

British Library Reference: LCP1916/20

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66141 D


7 Sep 1916 Oxford Music Hall, LondonUnknown Licensed Performance