Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

This is a revised version of the play as originally licensed in 1911. It is a domestic tragedy of humble life in Oldham, crude, violent, and outspoken after the accepted manner of Lancashire. Its heroine is the wife of an operative who is stronger in mechanical invention than in character. Deservedly though she is respected for her upright life and downright dealing, Jenny horrifies her worthy mother, her unworthy brother and her brother’s sweetheart by her unconventional views as to the unimportance of church-going and the importance of charity towards unmarried mothers. Her unconventionality is soon put to the test. At the end of the first act she receives as her guest her smart foster-sister, Agnes, from London, and being called away to nurse a dying relation she leaves her guest to keep house for her husband during her absence. After her departure it is indicated, though quite discreetly, that her weak husband and Agnes (who is a brazen hussy) contemplate the gross indiscretion of occupying the same bedroom. In act II, this shock to an audience ill-prepared for it is followed by a similar shock to Jenny's relations and friends, including a sanctimonious parson, when they discover after a few day's that the Omroyd's house is shut up and that Omroyd has run away with Agnes, leaving a callous note of farewell to his wife. Their discussion of the way in which the news is to be sympathetically broken to Jenny is followed by the grim comedy of her matter-of-fact reception of it on her return. She defiantly resents condolence and merely pities her husband as a 'dam fool', the act ending, as did the first, with the indication that an irregular menage is to be started, since a once-repeated lover of Jenny's turns up by chance and is promptly secured by her as her faithless husband's successor. In act III, 18 months later, we are shown a parting quarrel between Omroyd and his mistress, who have been wasting on luxury the large sum of money secured, by her cleverness, for his invention. He will now go home to his wife, not for her sake but for his own. She will receive him, he says, with open arms on his return to the innocent joys of humble life at Oldham. Agnes cynically predicts that he will find Jenny consoling herself with another man; and in the 4th Act her prophecy is brutally fulfilled. Jenny - who has been showing the fine side of her character by the rescue of her worthless brother and his equally worthless sweetheart from the result of their crimes - calmly jeers at her husband's confident plea for reinstatement, while his successor - who had thought he was dead - gives him the surprise of his life by his hearty welcome on the ground that Jenny can now divorce him and marry the father of her recently-born baby. Omroyd's well-merited discomfiture is completed and the sordid melodrama of infidelity ends with the little child, which, although unchristened because illegitimate, can 'lead us' and 'forge together the souls of humans by the bonds of love'. This last canting speech I should mark for deletion but for the fact it occurred in the script already licensed. For the rest the tone of the play, harsh and unpleasant though it is in its raw realism, seems to me (like that of 'Hindle Wakes', a kindred effort,) [to] be non-moral rather than immoral: and I do not find any of the alterations traceable in its present form to be such as preclude it being again, Recommended for license. Ernest A. Bendall.

Licensed On: 16 Oct 1916

License Number: 520

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British Library Reference: LCP1916/25

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66146 G

Performances

DateTheatreType
N/A Theatre Royal, Darwin, LancashireUnknown Licensed Performance