Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

This is a crudely dramatized version of the present war, described from the popular point of view, and made to serve as a setting for a conventional romance. The wife of a gallant British lover is being blackmailed by a German spy on the strength of compromising letters which she wrote to him as her lover before her marriage. Another plotter against her and her country is her maid, a German princess who is also a spy. Between them they nearly get possession of the inevitable 'secret code’, causing its custodian, the British officer, to mistrust his wife's honour. Later on in the course of some remarkable military operations the heroine turns up with her intriguing maid to nursery troops at a field hospital, where the maid throws further blame upon her mistress by attempting to poison her patients. The comic relief of the spirited nonsense is provided by a couple of slangy cockney recruits; and there is incidentally much more or less discreet denunciation of our tolerance of the 200,000 German spies in our midst, through whom 'Britain has more to fear from within than without. Quite in the mood of the moment; and Recommended for license. Ernest A. Bendall.

Researcher's Summary:

The play is probably the 'new and most original drama' referred to by The Era on 5 August 1914 when it advertises 'Mr C.Watson Mill's Cos. Own Personal Tour with full repertoire of his own plays interspersed with a few high-class dramas when required. Full and efficient Company of Well-known Players, including Miss Maud Morton Powell. In Active Preparation to be produced almost immediately - a New and Most Original Drama'

Licensed On: 10 Sep 1914

License Number: 2928

British Library Reference: LCP1914/28

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66076 Z


14 Sep 1914 Theatre Royal, South ShieldsProfessional Licensed Performance
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Performed twice nightly and advertised as 'the new military drama on the present crisis' (Shields Daily News, 16 September 1914) Popular prices: Circle 9d; Pit 5d; Gallery 2d. C. Watson Mill played the lead character.
21 Sep 1914 Queen's Theatre, LeedsProfessional
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'"In Time of War,” should draw good houses at the Queen's Theatre this week, seeing that Mr. Watson Mill is at the head, while the incidents depicted relate the recent fighting in Belgium. During the progress of the play stress is laid on the urgent need recruits to fill the numerous gaps caused casualties, and at the interval, last night, Mr. Mill, supported two recruiting sergeants, gave a speech urging the immediate necessity for young men joining the ranks.' (Leeds Mercury, 22 September 1914)
28 Sep 1914 Rotunda, LiverpoolProfessional
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'It ought to make a very strong recruiting appeal' (Liverpool Echo, 26 September 1914)
5 Oct 1914 Theatre Royal, LeicesterProfessional
12 Oct 1914 Theatre Royal, NorwichProfessional
19 Oct 1914 Theatre Royal, BathProfessional
29 Oct 1914 Theatre Royal, LoughboroughProfessional
16 Nov 1914 Theatre Royal, JarrowProfessional
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Proceeds went to the Ambulance Van and the War Fund. Every evening during the interval Mr Mill gave a speech listing the total figures of men who had enlisted in the Tyneside battalions, and urging young men to join the colours.
19 Nov 1914 Theatre Royal, JarrowProfessional
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Last night was set aside as a fashionable night at the Theatre Royal, Jarrow, when the proceeds were set aside in aid of the funds of the Ambulance Van and the War Fund. The first portion of the evening was devoted to Mr.C.Watson Mill's play, "In Time of War", after which a miscellaneous programme was given by members of the company. The first item was a recitation by Mr. Thorpe-Tracey, who gave "The Relief of Lucknow," and was heartily applauded. Miss Edith Vine, the vocalist, followed with a song, which was well received. Mr.Claude Agnew's recitation, 'In the Trenches," was much appreciated. Mr.T. Clark-Lockett, the cartoonist, gave some interesting specimens of his skill by drawing several cartoons in connection with the war. Mr.C.Watson Mill received an enthusiastic encore for his recitation. Mr. Harry Scadden's story of Lissa was warmly applauded. Thanks were given to Mr.Robertson and Mr.Mill and company for their kindness in provided such an enjoyable entertainment. Mr.Mill thanked them for their reception of himself and company. He was sorry that there was not a better house, but he understood that it was due to there being fashionable nights at other places. He trusted the Ambulance Van would continue to be a success. Whenever he came North he always felt like coming home as he always got such a good reception. Miss Powell and Miss Gregory had a number of postcards which they would offer for sale amongst the audience, every penny of which would be handed over to the fund, and he would also have great pleasure in subscribing a guinea himself (Loud applause.) The concluding item upon the programme was then oven, a dramatic episode of the Crimean War, "The Last Call," in which Mr. Horace E.Whitmee and Mr.Paul Neville took part. The Mayor had to leave early owing to his having an appointment at the Empire. Jarrow Express - Friday 20 November 1914
23 Nov 1914 Theatre Royal, South ShieldsProfessional
30 Nov 1914 Palace, NewcastleProfessional
7 Dec 1914 Theatre Royal, SunderlandProfessional
4 Jan 1915 Rotunda, LiverpoolProfessional
25 Jan 1915 Alexandra Theatre, HullProfessional
26 Jan 1915 [No Theatre Listed], Professional
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Mr C.Watson Mill has hit the target full and square with his new War Drama, "In Time of War," at the Alexandra Theatre this week. He had two remarkable "houses" last night - almost half the audience were in khaki, and the whole of it was filled with war enthusiasm and proper patriotic feeling. The experienced actor and dramatist has handled the war subjects with consummate skill. he brings in everything - the war outbreak, England's unpreparedness, the gallantry of Belgium, the German spy system, the splendid stand of our Army Corps in France, the gallant French co-operation, the enemy's outrages in Belgium, bomb-dropping on hospitals, and firing on the Red Cross. The consequences was that, knowing these facts to be drawn from real and recent happenings, the pit and gallery "rose" to Mr Watson Mill's clever points. The author is doing a rare good service by his well-cnceived and stirring appeals for recruits, which will have their effect wherever the play travels. The story deals with the machinations of a German spy in Britain who seeks to take Capt. Russell Squire's wife from him, and learn the military secrets committed to his charge. This spy is a high officer of the Kaiser's and when war breaks out the duel between the two men is transferred to France and Belgium. The play ends up with the complete discomfiture and death of the Guggenheim and his female accomplice. There is a well-contrived scene to finish all, laid in a British wireless station, which Captain Squires holds with great resolution and gallantry, aided by his wife, who has come out as a nurse to the front. Mr Watson Mill, of course, is a seasoned and conscientious actor, and he is aided by the most lady-like acting of Miss Lydia Andre as the much-wronged wife. Mr Harry Scaddon as the German intriguer, was admirably virile. Mr Paul Neville made a dignified and true type of British officer. Miss Edith Gregory in the thankless part of the lady spy, there infinite zest into her work. The audience took Mr George Searle's Prince Seegfried to be "Kaiser Bill" and howled to their hearts content. Humour is generously painted in by Messrs. A.Whitmee, Geoffrey Chaate, M.Thorpe Tracey, and Miss Edith Vine.
8 Feb 1915 Victoria Opera House, BurnleyProfessional
15 Apr 1915 Grand, HartlepoolProfessional
10 May 1915 Alhambra, StourbridgeProfessional
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Mr C. Watson Mill is again visiting here. In Time of War was presented to two good houses on Monday. As usual, Mr. Mill is an outstanding figure as Captaini Russell Squires. He is ably partnered by Miss Lydia Andre as Diana Squires. Mr.Harry Scaddon is a powerful exponent of Baron Guggenheim, whilst Mr.Paul Neville is successful as Colonel Mars. Comedy is well represented by Mr.H.A. Whitmee and Mr.G.Chate as Erb and Percy. Miss Edith Gregory is a charming Princess Zarine, and Miss Edith Vine is a bonny Nurse Alice. Mr.Mill's recruiting speech between the acts is most effective. The Stage - Thursday 13 May 1915
22 May 1915 Lyceum Theatre, LondonProfessional
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Performed, at least from 22 May until 9 June 1915, probably much longer. Act 1 - The East Coast Village. Act 2 Sc1 The Royal Quarters near the Fighting Line; sc 2 The City in Ruins, Act 3 The Chateau Hospital of the British Forces, Act 4 Sc1 The Shattered Fort; sc 2 The Wireless Telegraphy Station on the Frontier. The many well-known and popular touring dramas from the pen of C.Watson Mill have received scores of favourable notices from us on their visits alike to provincial and to outlying theatres, and now this author is having an example of his work presented for the first time in Central London. In Time of War, produced by the Melville Brothers with success on Saturday night, may fairly be said to have been one of the very earliest of the new War plays, for it was given, in eight scenes, at the Royal, South Shields on September 14, and its approximate date is shown also by internal evidence in the dialogue, the resistance of Liege being mentioned in the opening act; and the fal of Namur being referred to exultantly by Prince Siegried, the War Lord in act two. Mr. Watson Mill tells us, not without reasonable pride, that whilst on tour this play has already been the means of bringing over 4,000 recruits to our forces; and no doubt this number will be largely increased during the run of the piece at the Lyceum, where the patrons that give "the Drama's laws" revel in strong meat, and do not recoil from the almost painfully realistic presentation of every-day scenes from the great War with which we are shocked morning and evening. As a recruiting play In Time of War should owe its success to these harrowing object lessons in "the Gospel of Frightfulness," other now too familiar sentences used being a "contemptible little army" and "the weight of the Mailed Fist," whilst the absurdity of the German goose-step is set off against such typically Hunnish atrocities as the wrecking and pillaging of cities, the violation of the White Flag and the Red Cross, the shooting of prisoners, and the poisoning of wounded British soldiers in a hospital by a German Princess and spy, masquerading as a French lady's maid. "Thick and slab," indeed, therefore, is Mr. Mill's direct contribution to War on the stage. But the piece has other attributes that will strengthen its appeal to audiences at popular playhouses: a vigorously told and effective melodramatic plot runs through it; and it is permeated also by a copious vein of frankly comic relief provided by a couple of wastrels, pals at the outset, who become brave soldiers in our Expeditionary Force, and are good friends until they are both attracted by the same Irish Red Cross nurse. These true comrades, Percy Chumleigh ("Percy, my boy") and Herbert Bruce ('Erb), the one a broken-down sell, made up rather like an American tramp by Mr. herbert Williams, and the other,mm a soldier who had gone to the bad since he served in the South African War, figure very prominently in the action throughout, and become the most popular characters in the play as presented by Mr. Williams and his forcibly humorous coadjutor, Mr. Fred Ingram. For instance, 'Erb, before meeting again his old mother who had been expecting to hear from him by every post for fifteen years, had come across his former commanding officer, Colonel Mars, whose life he had saved, and readily answers the Call to Arms in an East Coast village, together with the speedily regenerated Percy, a local publican and ex-soldier also, Dennis O'Flaherty, and many other village lads, who march on and off to the reiterated strains of "Tipperary." Percy and 'Erb are concerned also in the ducking in a horsepond of Baron von Guggenheim, a German spy, passing as the naturalised Richard Bellairs, whose colleague in the supposedly holy work of labouring for the Vaterland is the Princess already mentioned. However, this so-called "Kitty" was jealous of her comrade's attentions to Diana, the lately married wife of Captain Russell Squires, engaged in the Wireless Telegraphy Department, and entrusted with official plans and a secret wireless code. These are the main objective of the schemes of the Princess and the Baron, who had made love to Diana before her marriage, and had been run through in a sword fight with the Captain on the sands at Monte Carlo. Long before this Diana had written imprudently compromising and foolishly undated letters to the Baron, and on these he had made forged entries of dates subsequent to her marriage. Thus, failing to force Mrs. Squires to let him have access to the secret papers, the pseudo-Bellairs is able, in the accepted way, to convince her husband of her infidelity, the Captain going out to the Front, determined to find death there if he can, and the wife following as a Red Cross nurse. The Lyceum gallery on Saturday behaved very rudely to the stage embodiment of the Kaiser, styled Prince Siegfried, the War Lord, and made up and acted very ably and impressively by Mr. Cecil du Gue. In the Royal quarters behind the firing line the Emperor, after fulminating against the British in the familiar fashion, and receiving but partially satisfactory reports from his agents, the Princess and the Baron, beats a speedy retreat on finding that the guns of the Allies are nearer than he had expected. We next have a very painful and distressing, though effectively staged scene of a city in ruins, and practically deserted save for a wretched woman, heard shrieking for her dead from within a house, for a gallant dispatch-bearing French officer of Chasseurs, and for wounded or dying British soldiers tended by Diana and the singing nurse Alice. The two women are being maltreated by the Baron, now a full-blown officer of the Uhlans, and his men, when they are rescued by the timely arrival of Squires, mars, and their lads in khaki. In the Chateau Hospital scene, next presented, we have much absurd, if diverting, comic business, arising out of the philanderings with Alice and mutual jealousies of 'Erb and Percy, wounded respectively in the hands and the feet, sandwiched with more horrors. The Princess, who, re-appearing as Kitty, had persuaded her former mistress to employ her, rather irregularly, we fear, as assistant nurse, causes many deaths by poisoning the water-filter, and Diana is accused of the crime and forced to resign, until Kitty arouses the Captain's suspicions by carelessly reverting to a Teutonic accent. To avoid arrest she signals to a German airship, which drops a bomb that wrecks the hospital, and is supposed to end the bogus nurse among the debris. However, the Princess turns up again in the last act, where Captain Squires, to save Colonel Mars and a beleaguered British garrison, is sent on a most dangerous mission, to communicate with Headquarters from a Wireless Telegraphy station on the Frontier. Here both Squires, managing skilfully the wireless installation, similar to that already employed successfully by Gilbert Heron in a popular sketch, and his wife, clad as a soldier-boy, are both captured and ill-used by the Baron, still hankering after revenge and the secret code. But Diana contrives to stab him, Squires re-establishes communications with Head-quarters, and the doubly treacherous Baron is sent out, and also rushing off to him before the final reconciliation of the couple ends the play. The Stage, Thursday 27 May 1915
1 Jul 1915 Theatre Royal, MiddlesboroughProfessional
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Mr. C. Watson Mill's company are here with In Time of War, a most thrilling drama, with realistic effects. Captain Russell Squires was admirably undertaken by Mr. C. Watson Mill, and Miss Lydia Audre as Diana Squires won golden opinions for her clever acting. Mr. Harry Scaddon as the spy filled his part very creditably. Good also was Miss Edith Gregory. The Stage - Thursday 01 July 1915.
6 Jul 1915 Theatre Royal, LeedsProfessional
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In view of present events, "In Time of War," which is being presented at the Theatre Royal this week, will be found interesting. The piece, which is produced by Mr. C. Watson Mill's company, deals with the German spy system, and is thoroughly up to date. On the whole the acting is good. Mr. C. Watson Mill makes an excellent captain, while Mr. H. Scaddon played the part of a German spy with ability. Others who acquitted themselves well were Mr. Paul Neville as a British officer, and Miss Lydia Audre, who as the heroine acted with success. Mr.H. A. Whitmee and Mr. G. Chato were responsible for the comedy. The piece, which was well received last night, is admirably presented, three of the scenes being very realistic. Leeds Mercury - Tuesday 06 July 1915
29 Jul 1915 Theatre Royal, StanleyProfessional
29 Jul 1915 Theatre Royal, PeterboroughProfessional
2 Aug 1915 Theatre Royal, North ShieldsProfessional
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Twice nightly. Mr. C. Watson Mill presents in its Etirety the Greatest and best of a lll the War Dramas, Entitled, "In Time of War." Shields Daily News - Friday 06 August 1915
23 Aug 1915 Theatre Royal, ColchesterProfessional
23 Aug 1915 Theatre Royal, LeamingtonProfessional
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Mr. C. Watson Mill's play "In Time of War," has had a long run at the Lyceum Theatre, and should prove a great success locally in opening the season on Monday next and throughout the week. Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser - Saturday 21 August 1915
30 Aug 1915 King's Theatre, HammersmithProfessional
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The Stage - Thursday 02 September 1915
30 Aug 1915 Grand, AccringtonProfessional
4 Oct 1915 Grand Theatre, SouthamptonProfessional
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Mr. C. Watson Mill presents the play of the moment, In Time of War. The play produced with the greatest success at the Lyceum Theatre, London.
7 Oct 1915 Theatre Royal, CoatbridgeProfessional
28 Oct 1915 King's Theatre, GatesheadProfessional
28 Oct 1915 Her Majesty's Theatre, CarlisleProfessional
4 Nov 1915 Hippodrome, BurslemProfessional
4 Nov 1915 New Queen's Theatre, ManchesterProfessional
11 Nov 1915 Palace Theatre, DurhamProfessional
11 Nov 1915 Pavilion, AshingtonProfessional
18 Nov 1915 Grand Theatre, RadcliffeProfessional
18 Nov 1915 Palace Theatre, BowProfessional
2 Dec 1915 Palace Theatre, DerbyProfessional
2 Dec 1915 Opera House, TorquayProfessional
9 Dec 1915 Theatre Royal, DarlingtonProfessional
9 Dec 1915 Coliseum, IlkestonProfessional
16 Dec 1915 Opera House, NorthamptonProfessional
16 Dec 1915 Coliseum, Long EatonProfessional
13 Jan 1916 Theatre Royal, WinchesterProfessional
20 Jan 1916 Theatre Royal, AldershotProfessional
13 Apr 1916 Palace, NewcastleProfessional
27 Apr 1916 Theatre Royal, Crook, Co. DurhamProfessional
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C.Watson Mill and Mark H. Lindon's company with In Time of War, presented twice nightly. Florence Hamilton and Alida Lindon are excellent in the parts of Kitty, the German spy, and Diana Squires: while Frederick Freeman, as Captain Russell Squires, and Sidney Grant, as Baron von Guggenheim, both do well. The Stage - Thursday 27 April 1916.
13 Jun 1916 Theatre Royal, ExeterProfessional
23 Aug 1916 [No Theatre Listed], Professional