Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

This play is rather like, in theme, 'The Man Who Stayed at Home’, with the difference that that had a sort of plausibility, and its fun was incidental, whereas this is an 'irresponsible' farce, wildly impossible. It may be a question if German spies and their defeat are a proper subject for farcical presentation; personally I see no particular harm in it and do not think to calls for interferences. The plot of this farce is as follows. An elderly colonel has married again and wishes to keep the fact from his already existing family, two daughters by a former marriage and a sister who keeps house for him, and the fact of their existence from his new wife. So he pretends to be the inventor of a new submarine which takes him from his country house (where the original family lives) to London and vice versa. A young man Smith arrives at the country house: he is a 'joker', that is, the odd man of life's pack of cards who for various reasons cannot do soldiering or other definitely useful work but may be of exceptional service; he is in love with one of the daughters. The colonel and a detective take Smith for a German spy in search of the submarine secret. The butler, a real spy and the head of the gang, also thinks Smith is the chief spy and when Smith is about to be arrested disguises him as the new governess. Wild mistakes and complications follow, Smith trying to warn the colonel and dealing with the gang of spies as the chief, misleading them. In the last act, in the new wife's London house, they find out the imposture and tie up Smith, the girl, and the detective to be blown up by a bomb. Of course, they are rescued in time. This last incident of the people waiting for death is writing more seriously than the others and it is a pity. Otherwise the piece is full of mere extravagances - people hiding in clocks and all that - with no possibility of being taken seriously. I add a particular remark or two. 1. Act 1, page 23. I think the production of a Uhlan's helmet with 'blood on it’, to illustrate Smith's mock heroic adventures should be cut out. 2. Act II, page 25, etc. The business of love being farcically made to a man in woman's clothes is more or less offensive to taste, but it has precedents - e.g. 'Charlie’s aunt' - and I fear must stand. 3. Act III, page 1.the name 'Lady Huntley' occurs, but so casually that perhaps it does not matter. 4. The spies make the 'sign of the iron cross', passim: I don’t like the probable confusion with a sacred gesture. 5. One character is a French count, described as 'wounded' presumably in the war. As he is an absurd person, he must on no account be in uniform. The same applies, of course, to the colonel - but he is evidently not meant to be. Recommended for license. G. S. Street. [Added after] I saw Mr Thynne, the producer of this, play and he gave me his solemn assurance that the character of 'Count Beupre' will not appear in uniform, he is not even a soldier. 31 march 1915

Licensed On: 1 Apr 1915

License Number: 3298

British Library Reference: LCP1915/8

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66094 G

Performances

DateTheatreType
17 Apr 1915 New Theatre, LondonUnknown Licensed Performance