Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

This is another instance of a French farce turned into an unpleasant English one. The original is probably outrageous, but more or less harmless from the French point of view, which does not take the characters in a farce as real people. In the English version the relations of the characters are made nominally more or less respectable and then the thing is left as near the line as the authors think will be permitted. In my opinion their second act is too near the line and should not be allowed. The plot is of course a tangle, to relate which in detail would take many pages. Paul and Andre are two young lawyers in love with the daughters of Lopez, a Peruvian. Both have women Rosette and Helene to whom they are ‘engaged’. Paul’s woman Rosette is going to marry and blackmails him to get rid of her then Lopez frightens them with his reputation for getting people killed; he insists on their spending a month with him, accompanied by Rosette and Helene and marrying them at the end of it. Another element is that Lopez’s wife has an affectation of the eye which makes her wink at people. Then there is a Russian prince who is soothed and falls in love when Mendelssohn’s ‘Spring Song’ is played. He was ‘engaged’ to one Madame Money who wants to keep him. She runs a ‘night club’. In act II this nightclub is exhibited with its private rooms and so forth. Endless complications happen, in which Josette’s husband is persuaded to think all the other people his wife’s relations and ultimately to go away. The prince goes into a private room with Josette, whom money wishes to supplant when ‘the spring song’ is played but Madame Lopez winks at him and he makes love to her. In act III Rosette and Helene take up their partners in Paul and Andre’s house, which Mayes confuse with Lopez’ daughters when they arrive. Everybody is afraid of being killed by Lopez, but eventually he is pacified, the prince marries money and the young men Lopez’ daughters. Acts I and III may stand as the usual bowdlerised English edition of French improprieties. (Act III, p.42, I have marked a passage about the Russian government and contracts which perhaps should not be allowed just now. Act II is a different matter. It is all very well to talk of a night club, but a brothel, with Madame Money as its keeper, is clearly suggested, and the people arranging to sleep there, with sly jokes, and the general business of the place would have a scandalous effect. I have marked passages on p.p. 5, 7, 13, 28 to 30 but the whole act is impossible, in my opinion. The scene of Josette, just married, going to spend month with another man, and all that, will not do. It is possible that something different might be substituted for Act II, but in its present form the play is NOT recommended for license. G. S. Street. I quite agree with Street. This is play which could only be found extremely objectionable on the English stage; and it seems to me to be only a try-on by authors whose risky work has given offence before. The whole motive of the plot is nasty in its hints of flagrant immorality; but the second act, with its scenes in a ‘night-club’, or brothel, seems to me quite impossible beyond the hope of deodorization. The result of the production of such a piece, in the present mood of the public concerning theatre-morals would, I think, be disastrous. Ernest A. Bendall.

Licensed On: 28 Aug 1916

License Number: 425


British Library Reference: LCP1916/20

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66141 F


N/A Theatre Royal, BrightonUnknown Licensed Performance