Great War Theatre

Performances at this Theatre

N/A Madam is ServedUnknown
19 Nov 1914 Ce Bon Monsieur ZoetebeekUnknown
1 Jan 1915 La Demoiselle De MagasinUnknown
11 Jan 1915 La KommandaturUnknown
25 Jan 1915 La KommandaturProfessional
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‘the play deals with the situation in Brussels in the early days of the German occupation. In the force of its realism, the depth and variety of its emotion, and the technical skill of its construction and characterisation, the piece will, we think, take a place as high in artistic estimate as anything its author has so far written for the stage ... Our readers must see for themselves the charming, poignant, humorous, profound, and lofty scenes with which M. Fonson decorates his story. Seldom have we seen a play hold its audience so fascinated as was the case last night.' Pall Mall Gazette, Tuesday 26 January 1915. '“La Kommandatur” was received with nothing less than enthusiasm. One hesitates to describe it a war play - the phrase has included such deplorable stuff! But there is the sombrous background of the war to a story in which M. Ponson [sic] has contrived to embody the spirit of suffering Belgium as no play so far has done. This is “national drama” in its truest sense. Patiently enduring the brutality of German officialdom in occupation of Brussels, a little family is sketched with humour and pathos ... It is finely enacted, and simply realistic’. The Globe, Thursday 28 January 1915. 'The entrepreneurs of the well supported Belgian season at the Criterion presented there on Monday a first production on any stage of La Kommandatur, a so-called comédie-dramatique (which is not quite the same as dramatic comedy), based on recent events in Belgium by Jean François Fonson, one of the joint authors of the merry and homely pieces of Brussels bourgeois life that have recently been holding the boards of this theatre. M. Fonson, a stalwart, bearded man of middle age, who was enthusiastically called again and again at the close of the first performance by a crowded and mainly Belgian audience, has indeed introduced some clever character studies and episodes, both humorous and pathetic, similar to those in the comedies already played; but he has also give us a sufficiently strong dose of actuality, and the horrors of War are not obscurely indicated, although no acts of revolting brutality are shown coram populo ... the piece will probably appeal to those of the refugees who have not suffered too severely from the havoc of War, although it must be confessed that, even to the heartiest British sympathiser with a nation struggling to be free there is not a little painful and harrowing in these episodes taken from life'. The Stage, 28 January 1915, which publishes a full cast list. 'The Belgian Company at the Criterion Theatre have scored a distinct success with this play, which deals with Brussels under the Prussians, who are unhesitatingly referred to throughout as “les sales Boches.” The polluting hand of the Hun has not been laid so heavily on Brussels as on other cities in Belgium, but it is clear from this piece that Prussians are not at all what you would call nice people ... [one particular scene] is very realistic, and its studied moderation recommends it as a truthful picture of the German occupation. It says much for the Belgian author (M. Jean François Fonson) that he should be able to take so detached a view of the acts of the oppressors, extenuating nothing and setting down naught in malice ... Apart from its dramatic story, the play excels in some quite admirable character-sketches. There is, for instance, the not unkindly picture of the German officer with his amusing pidgin-French, who comes to see if the prisoners have any complaints to make. There is also the German private, who, after raving at his prisoners in the best Potsdam manner, finds himself discussing the little ones at home. Asked if he has any children of his own, he replies that he has seven, and then bursts into tears. People who do not approve of large families may think his grief justified. Then there is Suzanne, the flower-girl, who, apologising for having only two roses left of her stock for the day, explains that it is all on account of the funeral procession of a French soldier which passed along the boulevard an hour ago. Flowers were forbidden by the “Boches,” as also was the singing of the “Marseillaise.” But Suzanne, greatly daring, emptied her basket of flowers on the coffin as it passed, and when she looked up at the crowd she could see by their moving lips that they were singing the Marseillaise in silence. La Kommandatur is a play of distinction’. Illustrated by a photograph of Mme. Jane Delmar captioned ‘The leading lady of the admirable Belgian company at the Criterion Theatre. Mme. Delmar’s performance in “La Kommandatur” adds to her reputation as a great artist’. The Bystander, Wednesday 3 February 1915. 'It is a play of Brussels life - not the Brussels of yesterday, homely, good natured, inclined to frivolity, but the Brussels of this very moment, with everywhere the “Kultured” Huns abroad. And Brussels is so very, very near. In a few months’ time - who knows? - we, too, may be suffering the ignominy and shame and persecution of these brave Bruxellois. It made the play at times too painful to be borne. It was like a tragic page torn out of the diary of to-day and presented to us with all the vividness of reality. To those who like myself know and love Brussels, it was so poignantly tragic as to be almost impossible to sit through. One thought of the gay little city - that miniature Paris presided over by a merry little housewife rather than by a cosmopolitan demie-mondaine - as it was but a few short months ago and now … But the play gripped one. There was no denying the effect of its scenes of comedy and the vivid picture it gave of Brussels under the Huns. And amid all the sadness and the tragedy there were glimpses of the happier days of long ago when love and a peaceful home seemed to be the only realities worth fighting for. Now every day brings its ignominy, its insults, its terror ... By the simplest means M. Fonson, the author, amused and thrilled us during the whole evening. La Kommandatur is certainly a play to see. It is not bombastic, and yet it is full of the best, even if the quietest, patriotism’. The Tatler, 3 February 1915. '‘“La Kommandatur,” at the Criterion, is the first play of real value inspired by the war that London has seen, and I shall not be surprised if there are big houses to see this tragedy of Belgium under the Germans'. The Sketch, 3 February 1915. The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 13 February 1915 published a photograph of a scene from the play captioned, ‘La Kommandatur (the Belgian pay concerning German occupation) at the Criterion Theatre. La Kommandatur, by M. Jean François Fonson, represents a Belgian household at Brussels during the war. The picture shows the horror of Catherine Jadot (Mlle. Jane Delmar) after she has stabbed Siegfried Weiler (M. L. Baert), the German officer, who had just produced a medal taken from the dead body of Catherine’s fiancé at Antwerp’. ‘Of the Belgian play, “:La Kommandatur,” by Fonson, now running (in French), we can speak much. It is at least a real war play, with credible characters and situations, and shows fairness towards the other side, and how the effects of war penetrate the home, both spiritually and materially. We strongly advise a visit’. Daily Herald, 13 February 1915. ‘“La Kommandatur” will played for the forty-fifth and last time at the Criterion Theatre to-morrow evening, a run of performances which is said to constitute record for a French play in London'. Pall Mall Gazette, Friday 5 March 1915.
8 Mar 1915 La FlambeeProfessional
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Cast included: M Dusquesne (Colonel Felt), Yvonne Mirval (his wife), M Libeau (Comte), M Desplas (the spy), M L Mathot (Marcel Beaucourt). The play was described as 'more potent now, when spy scares are in the air.' (Era, 10 March 1915)
21 May 1915 AlsaceProfessional
24 May 1918 The Safety ValveUnknown