Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

This is a spy play, better written than most, and with a novel setting. The scene is a chateau in French Lorraine, 20 miles from German Lorraine, in a room communicating with a pigeon loft: the hero, Capt. Paul Chalfont, is head of the carrier Pigeon Service and the birds are continually in evidence. All the characters belong to the French army. Paul is in love with Marie Latour, a woman doctor. So is Major Pierre Vaudry, a disagreeable character who quarrels and threatens. We find in a little that he is a spy, in league with Laeken, an orderly who is really a German. They intercept one of Paul’s pigeons bringing from a confederate in Germany a plan of attack. This apparently not having arrived Paul volunteers to cross the German lines in disguise and get it; he is accompanied by Laeken. In Act II Laeken comes back bringing Paul who is suffering from shell shock and has lost his memory; by the end of the act it is clear that he has really stunned Paul from behind; but Paul is shamming and with Marie’s assistance convicted Laeken and Pierre of their spying. In Act III there is some business of their trying to get off and a confusion of documents, too long to set forth here, but of course the end is happy and the spies marched off to be tried and shot. The play being concerned with the French army the questions of French susceptibilities arises. A French officer as appears above, is convinced of spying. But so, in other plays, have English officers there is some comic business of a general in love with Marie's sister, who drives his car, but the General is thoroughly sympathetic. The general tone towards France and the French army is all that could be desired. In my opinion the French are far too intelligent and too accustomed to freedom of the theatre to have the slightest objection to either of these matters. At the end of act II distant gunfire, drawing nearer, is heard. This is quite unnecessary to the play and on a rainy night might possibly be alarming. The point is worth considering.

Licensed On: 8 Mar 1918

License Number: 1445

British Library Reference: LCP1918/5

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66187 I

Performances

DateTheatreType
19 Mar 1918 Garrick Theatre, LondonUnknown Licensed Performance
30 Mar 1918 Garrick Theatre, LondonProfessional
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Arthur Wontner (actor), A.E. George (actor), Madge Titheradge (actress), Dorothy Lane (actress), C.V. France (actor), Kate Phillips (actress), Hugh Buckler (actor), A.S. Homewood (actor), Hubert Willis (actor), Herbert Greville (stage manager), Arthur Hardy (producer). 'Miss Dorothy Lane plays the part of a very up-to-date French despatch rider...Most of the little light touches of comedy fall to this clever young actress' lot, and are a pleasant relief to the murky atmosphere of the spy which pervades the piece.' (Tatler, 17 April 1918)
22 Jul 1918 Winter Gardens, WallaseyProfessional
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Starring Florence Helm. 'By Pigeon Post' is a spy play which comes to the Winter Gardens with a strong recommendation from London...Twenty carrier pigeons play a leading part, and the birds are reputed 'seed' perfect.' (Liverpool Echo, 19 July 1918)
29 Jul 1918 Torquay Theatre, TorquayProfessional
26 Aug 1918 Grand Opera House, BelfastProfessional
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Florence Helm (actress), Allan Jeayes (actor), Gilbert Heron (actor), St.John Medley (actor), Goodie Willis (actress)
2 Sep 1918 Opera House, NorthamptonProfessional
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Starring William Home (actor), John McNally (actor), Helen Green (actress), A. Blundell Murray (actor), Gladys Spencer (actress). 'By Pigeon Post' is another of the spy plays which during the last three years have been so much enjoyed, but one cannot honestly say it is as good as its predecessors. It has exciting moments and its surprises, but it has not the grip over one of 'The Man who Stayed at Home' for instance.' (Northampton Chronicle, 3 September 1918)
9 Sep 1918 Pleasure Gardens Theatre, FolkestoneProfessional
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William Home (actor), John McNally (actor), Helen Green (actress), Gladys Spencer (actress), A. Blundell Murray (actor), Garrett Hollick (actor), Herbert Vyvyan (actor), Fred Conyers (actor), Helen Graeme (actress)
9 Sep 1918 Palace Theatre, ManchesterProfessional
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Starring Gilbert Heron (actor), Allan Jeayes (actor), Florence Helm (actress)
16 Sep 1918 Hippodrome, LiverpoolProfessional
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Starring Allan Jeayes.
16 Sep 1918 Gaiety Theatre, HastingsProfessional
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Performed 16-18 September 1918. William Home (actor), John McNally (actor), Garrett Hollick (actor), Helen Green (actress), Gladys Spencer (actress), Arthur Murray (actor). 'A play of the moment, 'By Pigeon Post' was played to the utmost capacity of the Gaiety Theatre at every performance of the week...The story proved exceptionally thrilling...The introduction of a number of perfectly trained carrier pigeons in a large aviary was a pleasing novelty, as also were the lady doctor and motorist who played a leading part in this brilliant piece. A spy play always makes its appeal, but perhaps none has met with greater success than 'By Pigeon Post.'...The piece was received with great enthusiasm.' (Hastings And St. Leonards Observer, 21 September 1918)
23 Sep 1918 Alhambra, GlasgowProfessional
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Allan Jeayes (actor), Gilbert Heron (actor), Florence Helm (actress)
30 Sep 1918 Hippodrome, NewcastleProfessional
7 Oct 1918 Royal County Theatre, ReadingProfessional
21 Oct 1918 His Majesty's Theatre, AberdeenProfessional
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Allan Jeayes (actor), Gilbert Heron (actor), Reginald J. Turner (actor), Haviland Burke (actor), St.John Medley (actor), Florence Helm (actress), Goodie Willis (actress), Fred Norman (actor), Florence Burns (actress) ''By Pigeon Post' had a big job to tackle...last night, coming as it did to a public sated with the humour of Gilbert and Sullivan. But though enthusiasm was less buoyant, it was none the less constantly evidenced, and if the house was not packed from floor to ceiling, it was at least well filled, and interest in the play, with its emotionally dramatic situations, was deepened by the very contrast with the delightful make-believe of the preceding fortnight...The play was well staged and had a gratifying reception from the audience. As has been said, the task was hard but it was more than modestly fulfilled.' (Aberdeen Press and Journal, 22 October 1918).
4 Nov 1918 Royal Lyceum Theatre, EdinburghProfessional
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Allen Jeayes (actor), Gilbert Heron (actor), Florence Helm (actress)
25 Nov 1918 George M. Cohan Theatre, New YorkProfessional
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Florenz Ziegfeld (producer) St.Clair Bayfield (actor), Harrison Hunter (actor), Jerome Patrick (actor), Ida Waterman (actress), Vincent Serrano (actor), Phoebe Foster (actress), John Sainpolis (actor), Peggy O'Neil (actress), Frank Kemble Cooper (actor), John A. Higgins (actor), Hugo Schmedes (actor), Caro Miller (stage manager)
25 Nov 1918 New Theatre, CambridgeProfessional
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William Home (actor), John McNally (actor), Helen Green (actress), Gladys Spencer (actress), A. Blundell Murray (actor), Garrett Hollick (actor), Herbert Vyvyan (actor), Fred Conyers (actor), Helen Graeme (actress) 'By Pigeon Post'...is, in its way, one of the most enjoyable plays that have been seen in Cambridge for a long time...contains many sensations, of a deep and thrilling nature; much humour, of a most refreshing character; and a simple love affair of great charm...It was presented to the Cambridge public last night by a company of actors, some of whom are brilliant, and all extremely good.' (Cambridge Daily News, 26 November 1918)
10 Feb 1919 Theatre Royal, RochdaleProfessional
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Dorothy Edwards (actress), Aubrey Mallalieu (actor)
17 Feb 1919 Theatre and Opera House, CheltenhamProfessional
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Herbert Greville (director), Aubrey Mallalieu (actor), Reginald Turner (actor), Herbert Vyvyan (actor), Dorothy Edwards (actress)
24 Feb 1919 New Theatre, CardiffProfessional
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Fred Conyers (actor, stage supervisor), Gilbert Heron (actor), Baliol Holloway (actor), Ethel Gordon (actress), Reginald Turner (actor), Florence Helm (actress), Herbert Vyvyan (actor), Goodie Willis (actress), A. Blundell Murray (actor)
10 Mar 1919 Grand Theatre, MiddlesbroughProfessional
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Baliol Holloway (actor), Gilbert Heron (actor), Florence Helm (actress), Goodie Willis (actress), Ethel Gordon (actress), Fred Conyers (actor), Reginald Turner (actor), Herbert Vyvyan (actor), A. Blondell Murray (actor), Arthur Hardy (producer)
23 Mar 1919 Theatre Royal, BirminghamProfessional
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Baliol Holloway (actor), Florence Helm (actress), Gilbert Heron (actor), Reginald Turner (actor), Arthur Hardy (producer)
31 Mar 1919 Theatre Royal, Leamington SpaProfessional
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Baliol Holloway (actor), Florence Helm (actress), Gilbert Hexon (actor)
7 Apr 1919 Royalty Theatre, HalifaxProfessional
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Arthur Hardy (producer), Baliol Holloway (actor), Florence Helm (actress), Gilbert Heron (actor), Reginald Turner (actor), A. Blundell Murray (actor), Goodie Willis (actress), Herbert Vyvyan (actor), Ethel Gordon (actress)
21 Apr 1919 Shakespeare Theatre, LiverpoolProfessional
28 Apr 1919 Empire Theatre, PrestonProfessional
26 May 1919 Hippodrome, RichmondProfessional
2 Jun 1919 New Theatre, CambridgeProfessional
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Performed on 2, 3 and 4 June 1919 by Arthur Hardy (producer), Philip Knox (actor), Vernon Fortescue (actor), Garrett Hollie (actor), Marjorie Murray (actress), Miss Bucalossi (actress), C. Haviland Burke (actor)
9 Jun 1919 Palace Pier Theatre, BrightonProfessional
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Arthur Hardy (producer), Vernon Fortescue (actor), Marjorie Murray (actress)
16 Jun 1919 Empire Theatre, KingstonProfessional
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Arthur Hardy (producer)
23 Jun 1919 Palace Theatre, RamsgateProfessional
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Arthur Hardy (producer), Vernon Fortescue (actor), Marjorie Murray (actress), A. Blundell Murray (actor), Marjorie Gaffney (actress), Philip Knowx (actor), Garnett Hallick (actor), Arthur E. Owen (actor), Ethel Gordon (actress), Norman Arnold (actor)
30 Jun 1919 Empire, SouthendProfessional
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Performed late June/early July 1919. Arthur Hardy (producer), Baliol Holloway (actor), Gilbert Heron (actor), Florence Helm (actress), Florence Burns (actress), Goodie Willis (actress), C. Haviland Burke (actor), Herbert Vyvyan (actor), Reginald J. Turner (actor), Fred Conyers (actor)
30 Jun 1919 Grand Theatre, SouthamptonProfessional
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Arthur Hardy (producer), Vernon Fortescue (actor), Marjorie Murray (actress), Philip Knox (actor), Garrett Hollock (actor), Arthur E. Owen (actor), Ethel Gordon (actress), Jack Steward (actor) 'This play..is exceedingly novel and clever. It has a good story, the action is rapid and direct, the tension is steadily maintained, while, although the serious interest largely predominates, there are scattered about pleasant little passages of comedy, which serve admirably to lighten the graver aspects of the plot. There are no pretensions to emotional drama, or intellectual exercise, or delicate fancy - it is a good, honest, exciting, amusing thrilling play...' (Hampshire Advertiser, 5 July 1919)
7 Jul 1919 Gaiety Theatre, DublinProfessional
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Florence Helm (actress), Baliol Holloway (actor), Florence Burns (actress), G. Willis (actress), Fred Conyers (actor), R. Turner (actor), Gilbert Heron (actor)
14 Jul 1919 Elephant and Castle Theatre, LondonProfessional
14 Jul 1919 Grand Opera House, BelfastProfessional
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Arthur Hardy (producer), Florence Helm (actress), Baliol Holloway (actor), Gilbert Heron (actor), Reginald J. Turner (actor), H. Blundell (actor), Herbert Vyvyvan (actor), Goodie Willis (actress), Florence Burns (actress), Fred Conyers (actor)
21 Jul 1919 Theatre Royal, BirminghamProfessional
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Baliol Holloway (actor), Florence Helm (actress), Goodie Willis (actress), Gilbert Heron (actor). ''By Pigeon Post' returns here after a comparatively short interval...It is well presented by Arthur Hardy's well-balanced company. The leading parts are in extremely good hands, and full regard is paid to the possibilities of the tense situations...The play is most popular.' (Stage, 24 July 1919)
21 Jul 1919 Grand, SwanseaProfessional
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Arthur Hardy (producer), Vernon Fortescue (actor), Marjorie Murray (actress)
28 Jul 1919 Opera House, LeicesterProfessional
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Arthur Hardy (producer)
4 Aug 1919 Theatre Royal, ExeterProfessional
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Performed by Arthur Hardy (producer), Vernon Fortescue (actor), Marjorie Murray (actress), A. Blundell Murray (actor), Marjorie Gaffney (actress), Philip Knowx (actor), Garnett Hallick (actor), Arthur E. Owen (actor), Ethel Gordon (actress), Norman Arnold (actor). 'There have been many spy plays during the past five years, but none can be more thoroughly relied upon to retain the interest of audiences until the final 'ring down' than Austin Page's thrilling conception' (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 5 August 1919)
4 Aug 1919 King's Theatre, EdinburghProfessional
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Baliol Holloway (actor), Florence Helm (actress), Gilbert Hexon (actor), Reginald J. Turner (actor) Arthur Hardy (producer)
18 Aug 1919 Theatre Royal, BarnstableProfessional
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Performed 18, 19 and 20 August 1919. Arthur Hardy (producer)
25 Aug 1919 Opera House, SouthportProfessional
8 Sep 1919 Winter Gardens, BrightonProfessional
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Arthur Hardy (producer), Baliol Holloway (actor), Gilbert Heron (actor), Florence Helm (actress), Florence Burns (actress), Goodie Willis (actress), C. Haviland Burke (actor), Herbert Vyvyan (actor), Reginald J. Turner (actor), Fred Conyers (actor)
15 Sep 1919 Opera House, BridlingtonProfessional
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Arthur Hardy (producer), Marjorie Murray (actress), Marjorie Gaffney (actress), Ethel Gordon (actress), Vernon Fortescue (actor), Garrett Hollick (actor), Philip Knox (actor)
29 Sep 1919 Theatre Royal, DarlingtonProfessional
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Arthur Hardy (producer)
20 Oct 1919 Opera House, BlackpoolProfessional
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A return visit of the production. Arthur Hardy (producer), Florence Helm (actress), Goodie Willis (actress), Florence Burns (actress), Baliol Holloway (actor), Gilbert Heron (actor), Fred Conyer (actor), Reginald D. Turner (actor), Herbert Vyvyan (actor), C. Haviland Burke (actor)
21 Oct 1919 Hippodrome, PlymouthProfessional
27 Oct 1919 Palace Pier Theatre, BrightonProfessional
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Arthur Hardy (producer), Vernon Fortescue (actor), Marjorie Murray (actress), Philip Knox (actor), Garrett Hollick (actor), A. Blundell Murray (actor) Marjorie Gaffney (actress), Norman Arnold (actor), Ethel Gordon (actress), Arthur E. Owen (actor)
27 Oct 1919 Gaiety Theatre, HastingsProfessional
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Performed by Arthur Hardy (producer), Gilbert Heron (actor), Baliol Holloway (actor), Florence Helm (actress), Herbert Vyvyan (actor). 'The play has a good story, the action is rapid and direct, the tension is steadily maintained...an exciting play and one of the most ingenious that has been produced. It helps us to realise something of the intricate nature of the machinery by means of which the great war game has been carried on' (Hastings and St Leonards Observer, 1 November 1919).
3 Nov 1919 New Theatre, SalisburyProfessional
3 Nov 1919 Pleasure Gardens Theatre, FolkestoneProfessional
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'Austin Page's interesting play is one of the best of the secret service dramas which formed part of our theatrical sustenance during the war, and now that the conflict is over, and we are receiving German delegates in conference in London and sending sugar which is badly wanted at home to Germany it is still very good fare, although probably some would like the sugar as well...This excellent play is forcibly acted.' (Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate and Cheriton Herald, 8 November 1919) Baliol Holloway (actor), Florence Helm (actress), Gilbert Heron (actor), Reginald J. Turner (actor), C. Haviland Burke (actor), Herbert Vyvyan (actor), Goodie Willis (actress), Florence Burns (actress), Fred Conyers (actor)
10 Nov 1919 Devonshire Park Theatre, EastbourneProfessional
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The second visit of the production to Devonshire Park Theatre. Arthur Hardy (producer), Herbert Vyvyan (actor), Fred Conyers (actor), Florence Helm (actress), Baliol Holloway (actor), Reginald J. Turner (actor), Gilbert Heron (actor), Florence Burns (actress), C. Haviland Burke (actor), Goodie Willis (actress)
24 Nov 1919 Royal Artillery Theatre, WoolwichProfessional
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Norman Arnold (actor), Philip Knox (actor), Vernon Fortescue (actor), Ethel Gordon (actress), Garrett Hollick (actor), Marjorie Murray (actress), Arthur E. Owen (actor), Marjorie Gaffney (actress), A. Blundell Murray (actor)
1 Dec 1919 Stephenson Memorial Hall, ChesterfieldProfessional
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Vernon Fortescue (actor), Marjorie Murray (actress)
19 Jan 1920 New Theatre, OxfordProfessional
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Performed 19, 20 and 21 January 1920. Arthur Hardy (producer), Helen Green (actress), Alfred Gray (actor), C. Haviland Burke (actor)
22 Jan 1920 Theatre and Opera House, CheltenhamProfessional
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Performed by the Arthur Hardy company with Alfred Gray, Charles Poulton, Helen Green, Goodie Willis, and Haviland Burke.
26 Jan 1920 Theatre and Opera House, CheltenhamProfessional
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Performed on 22, 23 and 24 January 1920 by Arthur Hardy (producer), Alfred Gray (actor), Charles Poulton (actor), Helen Green (actress), Goodie Willis (actress), C. Haviland Burke (actor). 'Exploiting ground not so much over-cropped as some of that out of which so many of our spy stories have grown, the play is a good one of its kind and the acting is competent.' (Gloucestershire Echo, 23 January 1920)
1 Mar 1920 Alexandra Theatre, HullProfessional
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Arthur Hardy (producer), C. Haviland Burke (actor), Bertram Marsh-Dunn (actor), Baliol Holloway (actor), Garrett Hollick (actor), Charles Poulton (actor), Tommie Butler (actress), Queenie Finnis (actress) 'Four years of warfare have provided ample material for spy plays..Arthur Hardy's capable company present it with a full sense of the responsibility that a spy plot in the Air Service entails.' (Hull Daily Mail, 2 March 1920)
8 Mar 1920 Theatre Royal, EdinburghProfessional
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Presented twice nightly by Baliol Holloway (actor), Garrett Hollick (actor), Reginald J. Turner (actor), C. Haviland Burke (actor), Queenie Finnis (actress), Tommie Butler (actress), Marion Beresford (actress)
9 Mar 1920 Theatre Royal, EdinburghProfessional
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Starring Baliol Holloway, Queenie Finnis, C. Haviland Burke and Miss Tommie Butler.
29 Mar 1920 Wimbledon Theatre, Wimbledon, LondonProfessional
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Arthur Hardy (producer), Alfred Gray (actor), Queenie Finnis (actress), Charles Poulton (actor), Garrett Hollick (actor), Reginald J. Turner (actor), C. Haviland Burke (actor), Tommie Butler (actress), Marion Beresford (actress), Ernest Owttrim (actor)
4 Apr 1920 King's Theatre, HammersmithProfessional
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Performed from 4 to 10 April 1920 as part of a 'holiday programme' by Alfred Gray (actor), Queenie Finnis (actress), Charles Poulton (actor), Garrett Hollick (actor), Reginald Turner (actor), C. Haviland Burke (actor), Tommie Butler (actress), Marion Beresford (actress), Ernest Owttrim (actor), Arthur Hardy (Producer).
12 Apr 1920 Palace, SouthendProfessional
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Third visit of the production to Southend. Arthur Hardy (producer), Alfred Gray (actor), C. Haviland Burke (actor), Garrett Hollick (actor), Charles Poulton (actor), Queenie Finnis (actress), Tommie Butler (actor), Reginald J. Turner (actor), Marion Berresford (actress), Ernest Outtrim (actor)
19 Apr 1920 Empire, PengeProfessional
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Playing twice nightly.
22 Apr 1940 Richmond Theatre, RichmondProfessional
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'Austin Page's spy-play...which ran so successfully at the Garrick during the last war, has been accorded a well-timed revival at the Richmond...The Richmond cast can be credited with providing an interesting and unusual evening.' (Stae, 25 April 1940). Harold Warrender (actor), Edmond Breon (actor), Clayton Greene (actor), Marjorie Mars (actress), Hugh Miller (actor/producer), Ben Williams (actor), Mabel Terry-Lewis (actress), John Longden (actor), Barbara James (actress), Arthur Hardy (producer)
10 May 1940 Garrick Theatre, LondonProfessional
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Ben Williams (actor), Hugh Miller (actor), Harold Warrender (actor), Isabel Ohmead (actress), John Longden (actor), Marjorie Mars (actress), Clayton Greene (actor), Jenny Dean (actress), Edmund Breon (actor), Hugh Miller (producer), Arthur Hardy (producer). 'No more appropriate time than the present could be found for the performance of a spy thriller...' (Stage, 16 May 1940).