Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

This is described as a 'propaganda' and also as a 'military spectacular aqua drama', it is a more ambitious attempt to represent the condition of Belgium than any we have had so far. Giving the principle of allowing plays about war I find nothing, on careful consideration, to object to as a whole: there are certain passages which require attention which I will mention later. In the first act we have a town in Flanders before its occupation by the Germans, who are already in Brussels. There is some more or less comic, but innocent, business of an Englishman in love with the innkeeper's daughter and a jealous waiter, and a conversation of German spies. Eventually the Germans enter. A Uhlan insults Annette, the innkeeper's daughter; France, the waiter, kills him and makes off; a priest, who refuses to say who did the deed is shot. Act II is chiefly taken up with France, the waiter, now a soldier and his comic proceedings. He goes to sleep on sentry-go and King Albert, coming on, takes his place. Afterwards he tries to arrest the spy, but is wounded by him and the Germans come on. In act III the town is partly ruined. Then is a scene of the oppressive ways of German officers, but except in one instance, of which later, it is kept within bounds: they sentence, for example, an old man to be shot for concealing a gun, which of course might easily happen. The Englishman now in the Flying Corps, is brought down and taken prisoner: then is some more mildly comic business of his and France's love-making. Later, the Emperor, described as the 'War Lord' has a conversation with General Von Kluck. The last part of the play is entirely spectacular, with an inundation and the taking of the town by our troops. I should have said that there is an 'overture' with a mailed fist of heroic size crushing helpless widows and orphans, with Bellona and 'Astria, the Goddess of Justice' and the Allies coming to the rescue: a harmless allegory. I call attention to the following incidents, which may possibly be thought censurable, though with one exception not so in my opinion. 1. Act I, pages 17 and 18, the shooting of the priest for not disclosing the name of the Belgian who shot the Uhlan. This may be thought excessive, but undoubtedly the Germans have shot priests. 2. Act II. The comic proceedings of the sentry (the first five pages) seem to me harmless, especially as he afterwards does his duty as a good soldier. The incident of King Albert (pages 5 and 6) is taken from some historical incident, I forget about whom. It exhibits King Albert in a kindly light, and is only objectionable if the introduction of him at all is so. 3. The same consideration applies to the conversation of the 'War Lord' and Von Kluck. The former merely repeats his remarks about our contemptible army, and orders Calais to be taken and so on: he is not labelled. 4. Act III, pages 7 and 8. The brutality of a German officer to a woman is quite credible of the worst of them but is unnecessarily painful and I think should be cut out. With that exception and other possible exceptions the piece is Recommended for license, but on page 7 of act I (at the bottom of it) some words are omitted and as a matter of principle must be sent. G. S. Street. The omitted words have [...] harmless. G. S. Street.

Licensed On: 22 Dec 1914

License Number: 3112

British Library Reference: LCP1914/37

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66085 Q

Performances

DateTheatreType
21 Dec 1914 Hippodrome, ManchesterUnknown Licensed Performance
21 Dec 1914 Hippodrome, ManchesterProfessional
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Kultur played at this theatre for 3 weeks until 23rd January 1915. Cast: Georgina Milne (Annette Bovis), J B Butler (Monsieur Bovis), Marie Kildare (Helene Schwartz), Cecil du Gue (Otto Schwartz), Oliver Rogers (The Burgomaster), Herbert Brooklyn (General Bisfurth), Ellis Holland (Dudley Howard), Unity Webb (English Officer), F G Carrilo (Uhlan Officer), E Chester (Belgian Priest), T E Buxton (Belgian Priest), E Lawson (German Officer), E Austin (French Officer), Dick Harcourt (France), Hyam Fay (actor), C Eugud (actor).
2 Feb 1915 Hippodrome, BristolProfessional
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Kultur played her for 3 weeks until 1st March 1915. Cast: Georgina Milne (Annette Bovis), J B Butler (Monsieur Bovis), Marie Kildare (Helene Schwartz), Cecil du Gue (Otto Schwartz), Oliver Rogers (The Burgomaster), Herbert Brooklyn (General Bisfurth), Ellis Holland (Dudley Howard), Unity Webb (English Officer), F G Carrilo (Uhlan Officer), E Chester (Belgian Priest), T E Buxton (Belgian Priest), E Lawson (German Officer), E Austin (French Officer), Dick Harcourt (France), Hyam Fay (actor), C Eugud (actor).
8 Mar 1915 Olympia, LiverpoolProfessional
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Kultur was performed for two weeks until 20th March 1915.