Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

An old-fashioned melodrama combined with the 'war interest'. These plays are so much alike that it is almost impossible to distinguish between them, but I conceive the essential points to consider are that any barbarity exhibited should not be too horrible or disgusting and that the King's uniform should not be made ridiculous. The latter point is the more difficult, because the comic relief man generally enlists and continues to be comic relief: I take that to be unobjectionable provided he is made a decent fellow and does nothing derogatory to the character of a soldier. In both points, the present play is, I think, harmless. In England the villain (1) attempts to ruin the hero by poisoning his jokey, whose place, in accordance with racing custom in melodrama, is taken by a woman, (2) contrives that the heroine should believe he has seduced a girl really seduced by himself, and (3) throws suspicion on the hero as a traitor. At the front he is in league with a German spy and by putting on the uniform of a dead English officer gives false information to an English General. All them military part is muddled and absurd, as is generally the case in these plays, but is well-meant. The end is inconclusive, as the final scene is that of the wounded and nurses in a threatened position preparing to defend it. The nurses remove their Red Cross badges before becoming combatants, but even so, it is, I think, doubtful if it should pass. It could not happen in reality, and though there is no harm in the spirit of it, it represents nurses as acting contrary to the rules of war. On p. 67 I have marked the incident of a German General throwing water in the face of a wounded British prisoner, but I think it is no worse than things we know to have happened. Also on the same page the comic relief couple having changed clothes. This involves the woman being in khaki and is therefore perhaps objectionable, though I think it is insignificant. Subject to these doubtful points the piece is Recommended for license. G. S. Street.

Researcher's Summary:

The licence process envisaged a first performance on 10 May 1915 but this was delayed until 22 May. The play ran at the Princes Theatre (now the Shaftesbury Theatre), Shaftesbury Avenue, London until 7 August 1915. It then apparently was not revived until October 1917: The Stage, 4 October 1917 carried an advertisement inserted by its author, the actor and manager Andrew Emm (actually Andrew Melville), seeking a ‘full dramatic company of dramatic artists’ for “On His Majesty’s Service” and “For England, Home, and Beauty”, to open at the end of October. However, no further performance of “For England, Home, and Beauty" has been found before April 1918. Andrew Emm toured the play into 1919 alongside other plays, notably On His Majesty's Service and The Great World of London. A single performance has been identified in 1924. The play may have been altered after its first run. It originally had twelve scenes and thirty-two parts, ran for 'something like four hours' and was performed once per night at 7.30pm. By 1918 it had ten scenes and was performed twice nightly at 6.15pm and 8.30pm. As a touring production it may have been reduced in scenic complexity, number of parts and length.

Licensed On: 6 May 1915

License Number: 3392

British Library Reference: LCP1915/12

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66098 A


10 May 1915 Prince's Theatre, LondonUnknown Licensed Performance
22 May 1915 Prince's Theatre, LondonProfessional
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An advertisement in The Globe, 17 May 1915 stated that ‘A new Dramatic production, entitled “For England, Home and Beauty”’ would be performed at the Prince’s Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue on Saturday 22 May at 7.30pm, and every evening at 7.30pm and at matinées on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm. The same performance times are given in advertisements in The Globe, 24 May 1915 and in The People, 1 August 1915, a week before the play’s closure. ‘Actor-manager is not enough for Mr. Andrew Melville, thinly disguised as Andrew “Emm” at the Princes Theatre. He is an author, too, and combines all his capacities in respect of “For England, Home, and Beauty,” which he will produce on Saturday. There are no fewer than twelve scenes, tremendously topical. One is “near the German firing line”, another is in a field hospital. The Hymn of Hate is sung; the London Scottish perform deeds of valour, and the naturalisation question is freely discussed’. The Globe, 19 May 1915. 'It was, of course, inevitable that the war should bring to the theatre the melodrama in which the spirit of patriotism rises superior to all other sentiments, and one of the first of this “genre” was produced last night at the Princes. Its title provides the keynote of patriotism, a note which is struck insistently throughout the latter part of the play. Mr. Andrew Emm, the author, however, does not depend entirely on war episodes for his action, and judicially mixes many of the old ingredients of melodrama with the new … the audience last night cheered to the echo the scenes of fighting and military endeavour, and those of happy reconciliation, and gave the villainous German spy more than the usual share of hisses … The drama is excellently staged, and the production must be pronounced an undoubted success’. The People, 23 May 1915. ‘A melodrama entitled “For England, Home, and Beauty; or, Comrades in Arms,” from the pen of Mr. Andrew Emm, was produced at the Princes Theatre, on Saturday night. It proved to be a mixture of racing and the war, with longish interpolations of comic material of a rather elementary kind, in which the author, who played the chief comic part, conspicuously figured. It all seemed exceedingly superficial, but the audience gave it a brave reception’. Pall Mall Gazette, 24 May 1915. 'There will be noted a very decided similarity in the ingredients of the latest war plays. How could it be otherwise when heroes and spies, villains and wireless telegraphy, are the inevitable material for thrilling situations and dramatic moments? But Mr. Andrew Emm, whose new melodrama at the Princes Theatre has been duly acclaimed by a first-night audience as a capital effort at entertainment which excites and agitates, has done his best to give us a variant of the war theme by beginning in time of peace, before racing was declared “off” everywhere but at Newmarket, and ending in the firing-line'. The Globe, 24 May 1915. '“For England, Home, and Beauty; or Comrades in Arms” is the title of a stirring melodrama produced at the Prince’s Theatre on Saturday night. For people with strong nerves it is full of attractiveness. Indeed, we have not had such a lively melodrama for some time … all ends as the seasonal patron of melodrama would desire. The author, Mr. Andrew Emm, is to be congratulated on his thoroughness. He knows the whole trick of the business, including the introduction of broad humorous patches, and as he himself took a prominent part in the production himself, he had full personal assurance of its success, in the laughter and applause of a big audience. “For England, Home, and Beauty” is finely staged, and a good run may be predicted for it'. Yorkshire Post, 24 May 1915. 'Mr. Andrew Emm’s latest melodrama had a rousing reception from a big audience at the Prince’s on Saturday evening and it is easy to see that it is in for a spell of popularity both in London and the provinces. Nor is the reason far to seek, for its twelve scenes and four acts contain all the essential virtues and attractive features of popular melodrama combined with an extra-plentiful leaven of broadly effective humour; and what more could any discriminating member of a popular audience reasonably desire? … Certain it is that the author of For England, Home, and Beauty knows his own audiences from the front row of the stalls to the back row of the gallery, and plays upon their feelings with all the effect of a practised musician in front of a keyboard … For England, Home, and Beauty is described as a drama dealing with incidents of the present day, but the one and only incident of the present day is not reached until towards the end of the third act, when most of the leading characters leave England for somewhere in France. Before the scent of powder and the booming of guns there is such material as often comes to Drury Lane when the autumn leaves begin to fall, so that the spectator has much in the way of contrast. Much of it, perhaps, has little absolute freshness to commend it, and such a simple device as the totally unexpected nature of a will is used to set hero and villain at variance dire and unrelenting' [extracted from a lengthy, discursive review]. The Stage, 27 May 1915. ‘There is something wholesome about the antipathy of the gallery to the German-spy-villains in “For England, Home and Beauty” at the Princes Theatre. Without doubt this popular melodrama has been responsible for a number of recruits’. The Graphic, 17 July 1915. The play was advertised at the Princes Theatre in The People, 1 August 1915: ‘Last nights, positively ending August 7’.
15 Apr 1918 Borough Theatre, StratfordProfessional
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‘Next Monday at the Borough Theatre, Stratford, there will be commenced a special attraction for one week only, “For England, Home and Beauty.” This will be presented by a very strong and capable company, and should draw well’. East London Observer, 13 April 1918.
27 May 1918 Hippodrome, Richmond-upon-thamesProfessional
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The Era, 29 May 1918 listed “For England, Home, and Beauty” as ‘on the road’ at the Hippodrome, Richmond from 27 May.
3 Jun 1918 Pavilion, Mile EndProfessional
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‘A fine attraction is staged at the Pavilion next week, “For England, Home and Beauty,” a stirring and popular play dealing with the eventful and vastly important incidents of the present day. Mr. Emm crowds into ten scenes a dramatic production which has drawn splendid houses in all parts of the country … There are two performances each evening at 6.20 and 8.30, and a matinee at 2.30 on Saturday. The players are described as the strongest dramatic company in London, Miss Rose Ralph taking the heroine’s part’. East London Observer, 1 June 1918. An advertisement in the East London Observer, 1 June 1918 announced for the Pavilion Theatre, Mile End Road from 3 June, twice nightly at 6.15 and 8.30 with a matinée on Saturday at 2.30, ‘Andrew Emm presents his New Dramatic Production, supported by the Strongest Dramatic Company in London, including Miss Rose Ralph as Lucy Rayne, Herbert Mansfield as Lord Harry Leyton, Andrew Emm as Teddy Bush. Direct from the Prince’s Theatre, W. The Stirring and Life-life Play, dealing with incidents of the present day, entitled For England, Home and Beauty. Written by Andrew Emm. In Ten Scenes. Come and see how the English Officer uses the German Wireless’.
10 Jun 1918 Empire Theatre, IslingtonProfessional
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Mentioned in an advertisement in The Era, 12 June 1918 (performances at 6.15 and 8.30).
12 Aug 1918 Hippodrome, WillesdenProfessional
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Advertised in The Era, 14 August 1918 (performances at 6.15 and 8.30).
26 Aug 1918 Hippodrome, PutneyProfessional
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Advertised in The Era, 28 August 1918 (performances at 6.15 and 8.30).
2 Sep 1918 Hippodrome, PoplarProfessional
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Advertised in The Era, 4 September 1918 (performances at 6.15 and 8.30).
9 Dec 1918 Grand Palace, Clapham Junction, LondonProfessional
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Advertised in The Era, 11 December 1918 (performances at 6.15 and 8.30).
14 Apr 1919 Olympia, ShoreditchProfessional
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The Stage, 10 April 1919 listed under ‘calls for next week’ Andrew Melville’s “For England, Home and Beauty” at the Shoreditch Olympia.
2 Jun 1919 Hippodrome, LewishamProfessional
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The Stage, 29 May 1919 listed under ‘calls for next week’ Andrew Melville’s “For England, Home and Beauty” at the Lewisham Hippodrome.
16 Jun 1919 Hippodrome, IlfordProfessional
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The Stage, 12 June 1919 listed under ‘calls for next week’ Andrew Melville’s “For England, Home and Beauty” at the Ilford Hippodrome.
30 Jun 1919 Hippodrome, WoolwichProfessional
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The Era, 25 June 1919 listed under ‘next week’s calls’, ‘Andrew Melville presents “For England, Home and Beauty”‘ at the Woolwich Hippodrome. The Era, 25 June 1919 carried an advertisement ‘Andrew Melville presents “For England, Home and Beauty”’ at the Woolwich Hippodrome, at 6.15 and 8.30.
5 May 1924 Prince's Theatre, PortsmouthProfessional
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‘Next week, Monday, May 5th, and during the week. Twice nightly, 6.30 and 8.45. Andrew Melville presents The Great Princes Theatre, London, Military Play “For England, Home, and Beauty”. Written by Andrew Emm. Full Company of Talented Artistes, including Walter Hilliard as Capt. Leyton, Rose Ralph as Lucy Rayne, *Frank E. Petley as Richard Elton, Andrew Emm as Teddy Bush, and numerous others’. Portsmouth Evening News, 29 April 1924. [* An advertisement in the Portsmouth Evening News, 5 May 1924 for the play, billed as a ‘true-to-life melodrama’, says that Frank E. Petley will play Maurice Latimer and that the play has ten scenes.] ‘Andrew Melville will present the great Prince’s Theatre, London, success, “For England, Home and Beauty” at the Prince’s Theatre, Lake Road. next week. One of the many exciting scenes shows an attack by Germans on a British hospital in the absence of the military. There is also the great wireless scene where Captain Leyton, seriously wounded, endeavours to send a message through on German instruments’. Hampshire Telegraph, 2 May 1924. ‘The undoubted merit of Andrew Melville’s London company, which is appearing at the Prince’s Theatre, has been realised, if the crowds attending are any criterion. This talented group of artists excelled previous efforts in “For England, Home, and Beauty,” which is being presented this week, and interest is sustained throughout. The appearance of each artist was greeted with applause, particularly when Frank E. Petley commenced his part of villain, and Andrew Emm was as funny as ever, and to such extent did he provoke laughter that when he became serious there was no checking the hilarity of the audience. Rose Ralph was equally successful in the role of a wronged woman’. Portsmouth Evening News, 6 May 1924.