Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

This play was written in 1913 and the mobilisation with which it ends refers to that after the affair of Nancy, but it fits in with the situation of last August and is appropriate now. It deals with the enmity and opposing patriotisms of French and Germans in Alsace and is an interesting study, one's chief regret being that Madame Rejane's part is comparatively slight. In the first act Jeanne returns to than where she was exiled with her husband years before for singing the Marseillaise, leaving her son behind, who, of course, had to serve his time in the German army. She is a fine patriot and to her anguish finds the boy is determined to marry the daughter of a German family. In the second the young people are married and Jacques, the husband, is increasingly exasperated by the German ways of his wife. Marguerite's family and friends. Jeanne and marguerite have a violent scene, and the estrangement comes to a head with the attempted arrest, and saving by Jacques, of a young cousin in the French army, in the great struggle for Jacques. Mobilisation has been ordered and his wife insists on his joining his German regiment, his mother on his going with her to France. There is a fine sense a flair between the two women; but poor Jacques is shot for impulsively shouting 'viant les francais' in the street and his mother (Rejane, of course) declares 'il est a (with accent) moi maintenant'. There are, of course, many subsidiary characters and the contrast of ideas and manners is well worked out. I noticed on p.15 two sentences disagreeable to English taste in a German professor's cracking a typically German joke about his beer and the ultimate disposal of it, but that is merely a question of taste - the point being the bad German taste - and I think need not be censored in a French play. I have also queried on p.25 'M...' there is a note 'p__ (can't read)' - presumably Alsatian-French. But I do not think that need be troubled about. There is no sort of objectionable intrigue or anything otherwise offensive in the play, which is, Recommended for license. G. S. Street.

Licensed On: 1 Apr 1915

License Number: 3282

British Library Reference: LCP1915/7

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66093 M

Performances

DateTheatreType
12 Apr 1915 Court Theatre, LondonProfessional Licensed Performance
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The play was performed for around one month at the Court. Reviews were mixed: "It is not a play of any serious artistic account" (Illustrated London News, 7 April 1915); 'Alsace has been staged for a fortnight, but we should not be surprised if its run at the Court Theatre is prolonged much beyond that time' (Globe, 13 April 1915); 'Although "Alsace" was written long before the war, it is curiously applicable to the present time.' (Era, 14 April 1915) Cast included: Madame Réjane,Yvonne Mirval, Madame Vernoux, Madame Maine,Madame Depernay, Jane Milda, Madame Vara, Madame Dienard, Madame Brunet (actress), Theo Bosman, Monsieur M?illy Jules Delacre, George Desplas, Mr Marechal, Robert Tourneur, Mr Mertens, Lucian Mussiere, Jean Petit, Jacques Remiche, Jean Vermeuil.
7 May 1915 Devonshire Park Theatre, EastbourneProfessional
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This was a 'special flying matinee' performed by Madame Réjane.
12 May 1915 Theatre Royal, PortsmouthProfessional
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This was a 'special flying matinee'.
14 May 1915 Theatre Royal, BirminghamProfessional
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This was a 'special flying matinee', followed by an evening performance in London. The Birmingham Evening Despatch commented that "Patriotic plays are not, as a rule, an ideal medium for artistic display of dramatic genius, and 'Alsace' [...] is no exception to the general rule' (15 May 1915). The Birmingham Mail added on the same day that ''Alsace' [...] is by no means a great work of art, but it sets out sincerely a very nice problem in patriotism.'
18 May 1915 Palace Pier Theatre, BrightonProfessional
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This was a matinee performance.
21 May 1915 Criterion Theatre, LondonProfessional
18 Jun 1915 Playhouse, LondonProfessional
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Madame Réjane performed one act of the play. On the same bill were Madame Hanakow (dancer), Indain Tableaux.