Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

I have read this Revue with particular care, having been warned that there might be questionable matter in it, and have come to the conclusion that there is nothing - except, perhaps, a sparse remark or so - to which exception can be logically taken. The principle of allowing attacks on the Kaiser, references to German atrocities and so forth having been conceded, in the case of seriously intended play's, melodramatic sketches and the like, I do not think it can be taken away in the case of more or less comic productions. The introduction of allusions to dreadful atrocities in the midst of comic after show in my opinion a want of feeling and sense of proportion, but that is a question of good taste, with which we are not concerned The same may be said in a way of chaff of the Kaiser's use of the name of the Almighty, but one can hardly forbid that to a stage production any more than to 'Punch'. I have, however, marked examples of all this in case any many be thought excessive. Scene I, pages 5, 6, 7 & 16, scene II page 2, scene IV, page 7 & VII, 215. These are all either allusions to atrocities or digs at the Kaiser of crown prince. From a different points of view I have marked, scene IV, p.p. 3 seq. chaff of credulity about German methods - harmless, I think. Scene I, page 20, an allusion to lenient treatment of spies - fair criticism, I think, or at least permissible. The 5th scene may deserve special consideration, as an attack on the brutality of German officers to women. It is a quite serious little play in itself, of a sort already passed. It may be unfortunate that it should be interpolated into a comic piece, but that is all. These are all the German allusions. I call attention to a few points of ordinary coarseness - scene I, page 3, an allusion to the maternity grant: I think that should come out. Scene IV, page 2, 'pregnant' by mistake for 'impregnable' is coarse and idiotic, but perhaps not worth censoring. In scene VII, page 8, in the course of some silly satire on the morals of 'society', a footman is shocked by a man's coming out of his own wife's bedroom'. Perhaps not worth noticing. With regard to the plot: It starts in the office of 'the daily life' a satire on the 'daily mail', Lord Northcliffe appearing as 'Lord Effingham' (as there is a Lord Howards of Effingham that may not be permissible, but the title is not the same: then comes a coffee-stall scene, ending in a little tragedy: man stabs wife for earning money by prostitution to keep the home together while he is away": it is a painful incident, but there is nothing indecent in it and I hardly think such things can be ruled out now (scene 2, page 8 & 9) then we go to France, where the drama of the German officers occurs - a brutal scene, but I think such things are useful as keeping before the public what we are escaping in England. The revue ends in 'Lord Effingham’s' country house, with amusing burlesque of American romantic drama and so forth. It is, to sum up, much as the revues have been, with more mixture of the serious, and with the allusions to the war, the Kaiser and German methods. For the reasons given above, I think these should be allowed. In fact, it is practically impossible to keep them out: no country can be denied the satisfaction of vilifying its enemies in war time. Personally I would only cut out the 'maternity' passage. Recommend for license. G. S. Street. Ps I should have mentioned that in scene I, page 32, a character comes on in khaki and sings a song about the popularity of soldiers - quite inoffensive, I think.

Licensed On: 17 Oct 1914

License Number: 2981

British Library Reference: LCP1914/31

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66079 H

Performances

DateTheatreType
19 Oct 1914 Empire Theatre, LondonProfessional Licensed Performance
Read Narrative
The revue was staged at the Empire into November. It included music by Herman Finck and stage production was by Tom Reynolds. Performers included: Regine Flory, Mabel Russell, Kathleen Clifford, Amy Augarde, Ferne Rogers, Ralph Lynn, Spencer Trevor, Fred Groves, Tom Payne, James Godden, Julien Henry, A H Majilton. The revue 'positively teems with incident, but it is not merely with the gay side of life that it has to do, for the tragic element has more than one introduction. In the latter connection there is an intensely strong episode which is supposed to take place in a Belgian cottage in the firing line, wherein is shown in all its horror the suffering endured by two women in the hands of drunken and licentious Uhlans. [...] It serves to remind that War is War, and not child's play, and that the debt to be paid is heavy indeed.' ('The Stage', 22 October 1914)
12 Apr 1915 Victoria Palace, LondonProfessional
Read Narrative
This was not a full performance of 'By Jingo if we do' but a series of performances which included the 'highly diverting coffee-stall scene' from the revue ('Sporting Times', 10 April 1915)