Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

A finely impressive work. The chief character is 'the Emperor', who 'is not made up to resemble any real potentate', but is the German Emperor, the political situation being dealt with under the real names of the countries concerned. He is found asleep in a chair, in a bare room, and 'his Chancellor' and 'an officer' enter. They tender him a paper for his signature which shall begin the War. He is partly loth and the Chancellor advances the notorious German illusions about the preoccupation and degeneracy of England and so forth; he also talks about the prospect of France's violation of Belgian neutrality, if Germany refrains - unhistorically, by the way, as we know how long the German plans were laid. The Emperor dismisses them and, left alone, indulges in a megalomaniac soliloquy about his impending conquests. The 'Spirit of Culture' comes and reproaches and convinces him of the wickedness he intends, and when the other return he tears up the paper. They retire; he goes to sleep again and gradually the audience is aware that all has been his dream; when he wakes it is to the reality of the War: Belgian has been devastated [sic], his plans have miscarried. The Spirit of Culture returns and in a moving scene up raids him: ''I have come with this gaping wound in my breast to bid you farewell,' but her last words are 'If God is with the Allies, Germany will not be destroyed' - to which we may all agree provided German is rendered harmless. Perhaps Sir J. Barrie is tenderer to the Kaiser, in spite of the megalomaniac depicted, than most of us believe to be just, but he has a right to his view. It is grateful to find the theme of the War treated with the gravity and dignity it calls for. The tribute to the valour of our army is especially fine. (Page 10). Recommended for license. G. S. Street

Licensed On: 10 Dec 1914

License Number: 3077

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Genre(s):

British Library Reference: LCP1914/36

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66084 I

Performances

DateTheatreType
21 Dec 1914 Coliseum, LondonProfessional Licensed Performance
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The play ran here for around two months and was followed by a tour. The cast changed during the run with Irene Vanbrugh replaced by Lillian Braithwaite in late January 1915. It was performed as part of a variety programme at the Coliseum, with other pieces in December beingHenry Irving in 'A Story of Waterloo' by Arthur Conan Doyle, and various patriotic musical pieces. Reviews were mixed. 'Sir James Barrie's one-act play, impulsively written and impulsively accepted by Mr Oswald Stoll for production' (Globe, 16 December 1914); 'If not a great masterpiece, it has fine moments' (Birmingham Daily Gazette, 22 December 1914); 'Der Tag is hardly a play in the accepted sense of the word; it is a treatise on the War and its cause' (Stage, 24 December 1914). It was however 'welcomed by an overflowing audience at the Coliseum' (Manchester Courier, 23 December 1914)
22 Feb 1915 Hippodrome, ManchesterProfessional
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Performed by Morrison McKinnel (actor), Lilian Braithwaite (actress). ''Der Tag', considering that a great name is attched to it, fell rather short of expectations.' (Manchester Evening News, 23 February 1915)
8 Mar 1915 King's Theatre, EdinburghProfessional
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Performed by Norman McKinnel (actor), Lilian Braithwaite (actress), W.H. Broughton (actor), Cyril Reymond (actor).
15 Mar 1915 Hippodrome, BristolProfessional
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Performed by Norman McKinnel and Lilian Braithwaite. The Clifton Society noted that the play "is no 'hymn of hate'. Passion burns in it indeed, but it is passion for right and justice' (18 March 1915). Other acts in the same bill were Tom Foy & Co, Pasquali Bros, the Harlequinaders, Helen Charles, Alice Craven, Lancashire, Topliss Green.