Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

So far as I know, nothing like this play, which is in the main a conversation between a man and his dead son, has been seen on the stage before. In these times it is especially poignant, and if it were not done with essential reverence it would be intolerable. Mr and Mrs Don have lost a boy, Dick, in the war. The scene opens with a seance, in which Mrs Don, Laura Bell - it is odd that the name of Thackeray's heroine should be used - who was in love with the boy, and two men who do not count, take part. Don sits apart. It is supposed that mother and son loved each other passionately, and that the father was comparatively indifferent. He does not believe in these spiritualistic manifestations. Questions to the dead Dick are put by letters of the alphabet and 'love bade me welcome' is spelled out by the movements of the table. Then the table signifies that Don is 'antagonistic'. The seance ends. Don is left alone in the studio (he is a painter). Dick appears to him. The audience does not see Dick, but hears his voice. The ensuing conversation is naturally extremely touching. It seems that Dick may only appear to one person and had chosen his father as the one who in reality needed him most. He insists on his pater being cheerful, tells him how it is on the other side of 'the veil'. Mrs Don comes in but cannot hear Don's voice. Nor can Laura, though she feels something. It seems that Dick knew nothing of the seance, though when he has to go he explains that the password was 'love bade me welcome' - suggesting that there was something in it after all. As I said above, all this would be intolerable if done or accepted in the wrong spirit. As it is, it seems to me personally a beautiful and affecting play. Possibly someone may find it irreverent or some of it in dubious taste, but I do not think that anybody could question the reverent and sympathetic intention. It may possibly be questioned if anything so poignant in these times is wisely put on the stage. Personally I cannot imagine any effect but good from it.

Licensed On: 24 Jun 1918

License Number: 1636

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Genre(s):

British Library Reference: LCP1918/11

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66193 Q

Performances

DateTheatreType
28 Jun 1918 Wyndham's Theatre, LondonUnknown Licensed Performance