Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

This is a homely sketch in Barrie’s finer and less freakish vein of pawky humour touched by tender sentiment. Its heroine is an old charwoman, who is introduced to us as quaintly discussing with fellow-charwoman, over tea and shrimps, their view on the War, and their pride in the sons taking part it. Presently there is announced to the hostess the home-coming on leave of her boy, private Dowey of the Black Watch, whose bundle of sham letters she has been proudly exhibiting to her envious friends. On his arrival it turns out that her relationship to him is a pious fiction invented by her so that she, like her neighbours, should have ‘someone at the war’. In reply to the young man’s natural denunciation of her innocent fraud - the possibilities of which are very skilfully suggested, the whole pitiful story of the imaginary motherhood comes out. Then begins the mothering which, by the temptation of creature comforts, bath and bed and food, eventually softens and wins the heart of the angry young man who as a matter of fact is as lonely as his supposititious parent. The process is full of human touches not less sure than subtle. So also is the study of the farewell when the end of the lady's happy leave ends also the amiable imposture; while a note of infinite but almost silent sadness is sounded in the final glimpses at the poor kindly old charwoman, tending bravely the mementoes of her few days of stolen happiness with the imaginary son for whom an unseen piper is now playing the 'Black Watch last farewell' both tender and true and cordially recommended for license. Ernest A. Bendall.

Licensed On: 19 Mar 1917

License Number: 865



British Library Reference: LCP1917/7

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66162 A


Date Theatre Type
7 Apr 1917 New Theatre, London Professional Licensed Performance
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Performed by G. H. Mulcaster (Private Dowie), Jean Cadell Mrs. Dowie), Claire Greet, Ivy Williams, Pollie Emery (charladies). Other pieces on the same bill were: 'Wurzle- Flummery' by A. A. Milne, and 'Seven Women' by J. M. Barrie, with Irene Vanburgh.
14 May 1917 Empire Theatre, New York Professional
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Producer-Charles Frohman, Inc., John J. McFarlane (Private Dowey), Beryl Mercer (Mrs. Dowey), Theodor von Eltz (Mr. Wilkinson, a clergyman, Chorus - Clara T. Bracy, Lillian Brennard & Alice Esden.
15 Nov 1917 King's Theatre, Edinburgh Professional
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Producer - Dion Boucicault
26 Nov 1917 Coliseum, London Professional
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Performed by G.H.Mulcaster (Private Dowey), A. Carlaw Grand (Mr Wilkinson), Irene Rooke(Mrs. Dowey, Chorus-Frances Wetherall, Helen Colville & Pollie Emery.
5 Dec 1917 Coliseum, London Professional
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Performed by Billy Meeson, Vesta Tilley, Keith Vincent, and Zomah.