Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

A possible explanation of this imbecile rubbish is that it is meant as a burlesque of the spy play. Some of the scenes, however, are apparently meant to be taken seriously. The whole play is wildly absurd. It begins in Berlin with a council of the Kaiser, the crown prince etc. before the war, at which England is denounced, and war is planned to begin when Bolo shall have got possession of an ‘aerial explosive’ invented by Lieutenant Hainsworth, R. N. Then we got to England Bolo as president of a peace society is received by an admiral, plans Hainsworth’s ruin with one Sonia and another spy, in our navy, and so on. Squib, the comic man, previously in Berlin as Bolo’s servant, swims ashore with a box of papers and denounces Bolo. Then we have a meeting of the peace society and after that a complicated business of Hainsworth pretending to sell the invention to trap Bolo and Squib posing as an ‘American admiral’. Plotting and shooting and so on, ending in Bolo’s escape. He turns up in scene 9 as a German colonel, the scene being in the German lines. There is the customary business of threatening prisoners with torture but Squib and another comic man turn up and defeat the plans. Bolo scopes again, and after a scene at Calais, apparently after the war, finally emerges handcuffed from a tank in Piccadilly produced by Squib. It is mad, but also stupid nonsense. I suppose the business of the Kaiser, etc. must pass, as it has been allowed in other plays: it is very undignified fooling. In a more serious play I should object to an admiral (scene II) entertaining and complimenting Bolo, but this is sheer fooling. Even so I dislike soldiers and sailors in uniform taking part in this foolish nonsense, but it practically impossible to rule that out of comic plays now. The name Bolo has apparently become already a name for any sort of absurd spy, without reference to the real person. Recommended for Licence. G. S. Street

Licensed On: 5 Mar 1918

License Number: 1426

British Library Reference: LCP1918/4

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66186 U


4 Mar 1918 King’s Theatre, SouthseaUnknown Licensed Performance
4 Mar 1918 King's Theatre, SouthseaProfessional
Read Narrative
The name of the villain changed from Von Bolo to Von Golo. Frenchman Paul Bolo, known as Bolo Pasha, had been arrested in September 1917 as a traitor/German agent and stood trial in early 1918. He was found guilty of treason in February 1918 and executed in April 1918 after an unsuccessful appeal. If the villain was originally called Von Bolo after Bolo Pasha (there was a lot of press coverage of the case) perhaps the producer decided to change the name for the sake of decency!
11 Mar 1918 New Middlesex Theatre, LondonProfessional