Great War Theatre

Performances at this Theatre

DateScriptType
N/A The Man Who Went AbroadUnknown
N/A DisraeliUnknown
N/A The Prime MinisterUnknown
23 Sep 1914 The King's ManUnknown
5 Oct 1914 AdvertisementUnknown
1 Dec 1914 The Man Who Stayed At HomeUnknown
10 Dec 1914 The Man Who Stayed At HomeProfessional
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‘The full cast of The Man Who Stayed at Home, the three-act play, by Lechmere Worrall and J. E. Harold Terry, which will be produced at the Royalty on Thursday, December 10, is as follows:- Christopher Brent, Mr. Dennis Eadie; Carl Sanderson, Mr. Malcolm Cherry; John Preston, J. P., Mr. Hubert Harben; Percival Pennicuick [sic – Pennicuik], Mr. Stanley Logan; Fritz, Mr. E. Henry Edwards; Corporal Atkins, Mr. Campbell Gullan; Mrs. Sanderson, Mrs. Robert Brough; Miriam Leigh, Miss Ruth Mackay; Molly Preston, Miss Isobel Elsom; Miss Myrtle, Miss Jean Cadell; Fraulein Schroeder, Miss Mary Jerold; Daphne Kidlington, Miss Elizabeth Risdon' (The Stage, 3 December 1914). ‘Let it be a lesson to all young girls who go about presenting white fathers to young men who they think should be at the front. For Brent was very much in the front, and yet he was the man who stayed at home ... [the play] so nicely manages to give us what we are all thinking and talking about without the impertinence of obtruding those bigger things for which just now there is no place on the stage. The play was excellently performed. The Brent of Mr. Eadie, the Sanderson of Mr. Cherry, the Fritz of Mr. Edwards, and the Fräulein Schroeder of Miss Jerrold being conspicuous efforts in acting of all-round accomplishment’ (The Globe, 11 December 1914). 'The German spy question - particularly in relation to the East Coast - is in the public mind, and has been for some months past, so the authors ... said to themselves, “Let’s write a play about German spies on the East Coast.” One might almost add, “No sooner said than done,” for the shows signs of haste in execution, and it would be possible to point out incongruities in the story, but they did not seem to matter. The house was willing to be thrilled, and thrilled it was ... Altogether an admirable performance of an ingenious piece of genteel melodrama; no wonder that the reception was enthusiastic’ (Westminster Gazette, 11 December 1914). 'The authors ... have put upon the stage with some ingenuity a sort of magazine story about German spies and English detectives ... There is no very serious pretence at drama in the affair, but some of the characterisation is good, and the story is told with enough skill to produce a number of exciting situations' (The Scotsman, 11 December 1914). ‘We have more than once during the past four months expressed the opinion that the less the Theatre comments upon the war the better it will be for the Theatre; for, in commenting in any serious way upon a reality so stupendous, it is almost impossible for a machine like the stage to avoid giving the impression of trifling – and no impression could be less acceptable at a time like the present. We cordially allow, however, that “The Man Who Stayed at Home” ... is harmless. Its few serious moments are rather silly; but it has many others that are frankly comic, and these promise extremely well ... the reception given to the most “exciting” incidents by last night’s audience showed that the house was accepting it as Farce ... We venture say that the more the play is acted on farce lines the greater will be its success ... it should have a good “run” - if the farce note is kept well sounded' (Pall Mall Gazette, 11 December 1914). 'So much has been heard of late of the machinations of German spies in this country that it not to be wondered at that the subject has at last afforded scope for treatment on the stage. Whether the theatre is the proper place for dealing with matters of such great importance is another question, but happily no objection can be taken to the way in which a German spy play is presented at the Royalty ... There is a plot, course, but it is of secondary interest in a play of this nature ... While the “spy mania” lasts, the play is certain to have a good run’ (Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 12 December 1914). ‘In the ordinary way we do not look for any very striking lessons from a comedy drama, for that is how the new play at the Royalty should be described. But “The Man Who Stayed at Home” ... is full of meaning. It tells us not to judge hastily those who do not happen to fulfil our particular ideas of patriotic service, and it puts on the stage some striking truths of the spy system and the spy danger ... This is going to be the play of the season, that we venture to predict with confidence; and it is going to convince all who visit the Royalty that the man with the monocle and the fatuous talk may not be the fool that he looks, and that it is a dangerous thing to distribute white feathers in judgment on those of whose circumstances and whose work you know nothing' (The People, 13 December 1914). '“The Man Who Stayed at Home,” … treats lightly though with an ostensible seriousness which I suspect to be a “box-office” ruse on the part of its clever authors, one of the dailiest of our wartime topics, the ever-present terror of spies' (Truth, 16 December 1914). ‘Schoolboy adjectives such as “ripping” and “topping” and “jolly good” appear to be the most applicable to “The Man Who Stayed at Home” ... Most of us, thank God, have something of the schoolboy in us to the end of our days, and it is this “something” that makes us rejoice, without on, in thrills and surprises and deeds of “derring-do.” Messrs. Vedrenne and Eadie have got a real “thriller” this time, there is not a dull moment in one of the three acts. By the end of each act we are so breathless that we have no desire left to be critical, figuratively are carried off our feet by this delightful tale of foolish German spies and clever British detectives. Never even in the most robust days of the “penny dreadful” have there been such wicked, bloodthirsty spies ... There can very little doubt that “The Man Who Stayed at Home” will “catch on” tremendously ... It is so jolly and light-hearted, and is so brilliantly played with exactly the right spirit by an exceptionally clever company. The play goes with a splendid “bang” from start to finish, and the burlesque of melodrama is delicately done and with so much zest that the actors and audience are almost immediately on terms of the utmost good-fellowship' (The Era, 16 December 1914). 'The Man who Stayed at Home is, indeed, a blend of light comedy with drawing-room melodrama, and its treatment of the great and burning Spy question is interesting enough, when it seems either designedly or unintentionally farcical ... There are [many] sensations, theatrical as well as semi-scientific, in a piece smartly, if not quite convincingly, put together, and marked by a number of bright lines, topical hits, rapid and ingeniously “tricky” curtains, and entertaining, though superficial character studies' (The Stage, 17 December 1914). 'I should imagine, after seeing “The Man Who Stayed at Rome,” … that there is no doubt whatever about its popularity. I cannot conceive a play more likely to appeal to all and sundry at this time, nor one that could amuse and interest more than does this ... the play is full of incident - and topical incident, too. It may be that the authors rather poke fun at us over the spy business; but whether we believe in spies or whether we do not, we all of us are interested in the doings of their spies. It is all so ridiculous, so easy, and yet so plausible ... The play was received more enthusiastically than any play I have seen this year, and that it should be the success of this somewhat trying season there is no doubt. At any other time than this there would be no shadow of doubt of its success. It is bright, entertaining, intensely exciting, and most topical. What more can anyone desire?’ (Clarion, 18 December 1914). ‘Messrs. Lechmere Worrall and Harold Terry’s play may perhaps be described as a light melodrama. It is, of course, supremely topical, and is just probable enough to be interesting, without being sufficiently so to be disturbing ... There are plenty of thrills, relieved by unforced humour and lightened by the pretty love interest that runs through the play ... The piece has just the touch that is needed the moment, and should do well’ (Sporting Times, 19 December 1914). ‘Once more fiction has anticipated fact. It will be remembered that the concealment of a wireless apparatus in a chimney plays an important part in the plot of the war play, “The Man Who Stayed at Home" ... Now such an installation has actually been discovered in a house in Liverpool. The discovery was due to the alertness of a woman member of the sanitary staff of the Liverpool Corporation. While visiting a house on the outskirts of the city she saw something in the fireplace which aroused her suspicions. She informed the police, who at once visited the house and found that the fireplace contained a complete wireless installation’ (The Globe, 22 December 1914). 'The Man Who Stayed at Home is the most exciting dramatic piece which the war has so far produced. It is amusing, too, and quite exceptionally well acted by everyone ... This play will run the length of the war, and probably a long time after’ (The Tatler, 23 December 1914). ‘This play deals with one of the great problems of the present war, the spy question. In short, this play, without showing any of the horrors of battle, brings home to its audience the fact that England is actually at war, and should not be missed by any playgoer who loves fine acting and “a thrill”' (The Tatler, 23 December 1914). The Man Who Stayed At Home ‘is a merry little play about German spies and British spy-catchers. It is such a comforting play, too, for it shows how catchable these German malefactors really are ... It is worth noting that whereas in times of peace a spy play (and particularly the chief lady spy) would have to be treated in grim earnest, now that war is actually raging a serious spy play would be a failure. We enter the theatre in order to escape from our real world for an hour or two, and are annoyed if we find it has crept round through the stage door to confront us across the foot lights’ (Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 26 December 1914). ‘With one exception we are still without a war play of any merit. We cannot, of course, take “The Flag Lieutenant” seriously - West-End drawing-room stuff dished up with a naval sauce and some fuzzy-wuzzy shooting. The Royalty play about “The Man Who Stayed at Home” is the ordinary stage-detective story cast in a war setting to fit the moment. Both plays give Mr. O. B. Clarence and Mr. Dennis Eadie opportunities for fine acting’ (Daily Herald, 9 January 1915). ‘The success of “ The Man Who Stayed at Home” shows that the war in its lighter aspects makes a strong appeal (Truth, 13 January 1915). ‘The play is admirably acted, and is extremely amusing, just the thing, in fact, for the man or woman suffering from depression or gloom or any of those other unpleasant conditions of mind so much in evidence at the present time’ (War Office Times and Naval Review, 15 January 1915). ‘The King and Queen have expressed their desire to attend the special matinee of “The Man Who Stayed at Home” which is be given in aid of the Officers’ Families Fund on May 11. The performance will take place at the Palace Theatre. It was felt that, in view of the importance of the occasion, a larger audience might be expected than could conveniently be accommodated at the Royalty Theatre (Globe, 1 April 1915). There is a leaflet advertising the performance at https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/31675. The occasion was reported in several newspapers, including The Stage, 13 May 1915, which noted, 'The entire gallery had been purchased by the Queen and was occupied by 400 wounded soldiers, who wore brought from the various London hospitals in motor-cars ... the total amount realised was £1,330'. ‘Two things were certain when the war broke out. One was that, if the theatre was to prosper, the war must be left alone by dramatists. The other was that the day of what is called bedroom comedy was over … [However,] theatre after theatre sought to attract the public with serious war dramas. The result of the policy will probably cause its abandonment. The success of “The Man Who Stayed at Home” does not affect the argument, as this play is almost entirely farce, and is played as such’ (Pall Mall Gazette, 22 June 1915). ‘“The Man who Stayed at Home” has swelled Messrs. Vedrenne and Eadie’s banking account to the tune of some £15,000’(Sporting Times, 17 July 1915). 'With the exception of “The Man Who Stayed at Home,” which is without the large and serious purpose that marked the poetic “Armageddon” [by Stephen Phillips] or the melodramatic “The Day Before the Day,” [by Chester Bailey Fernald] the war plays left the public cold, or else here and there a little resentful. Great themes demand great masters’ (Birmingham Mail, 28 July 1915). The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 21 August 1915, was critical of Stephen Phillips’ play Armageddon: ‘I should have expected him, as a poet and a man of letters, to have the feeling, without in the least desiring to defend Germans at the present day, that their behaviour is not a good subject for either melodrama or farce … A more successful treatment of the subject is found in The Man Who Stayed at Home, which has been running to great lengths. There is a lighter touch about this which commends it, and an air of burlesque of spy drama which is entertaining’. ‘A noticeable feature of the present condition of the theatrical world is the unpopularity of the war play - that is, the play dealing in a more or less realistic fashion with the dismal state of affairs out there. Many optimistic managers, at the outbreak of the war, imagined that they had only to produce a play dealing with the killing of Germans by Englishmen, and the public would flock to their doors. But there was no flock. Many things account for this; some of them ought to have occurred to the misguided optimists in question. To begin with, realism has never been popular in this country … Of all the crop of war plays with which we began the season the only one that has made good is The Man Who Stayed at Home. But this piece has succeeded not because it is a war play, but because it is a good play’ (The Bystander, 25 August 1915). ‘The war has yet to evolve a really great play ... if we except “The Man Who Stayed at Home,” “Armageddon” [by Stephen Phillips] … and a playlet by Sir J. M. Barrie [“Der Tag”], which was dependent on the author’s reputation as much its own worth for its length of run, the British drama has benefited nothing from the war … playwrights have missed a golden opportunity during the past year in not evolving a stirring recruiting drama after the style, for instance, of “The Englishman’s Home”‘ (Edinburgh Evening News, 8 October 1915). ‘“The Man Who Stayed at Home” has been called war play, but it triumphs, in my judgment because of its characterisation rather than its situations. The main interest of audiences at the Royalty Theatre is undoubtedly centred in the character development of the secret service agent who carries on his patriotic operations under cover of being a “slacker”‘ (Horace A. Vachell in the Daily Mirror, 23 October 1915). ‘I met Mrs. Vedrenne on Tuesday afternoon at the Royalty Theatre, when, by way of celebrating the 365th performance of “The Man Who Stayed at Home,” the audience was composed of wounded soldiers from various hospitals round and about London. She, like everybody connected with the theatre, was perfectly delighted at the appreciation shown by the wounded men’ (Daily Mirror, 28 October 1915). ‘In England [the war] it all too personal and too close for us to find anything attractive in a presentment of its horrors on the stage. The only play which has dealt with the war and which has had any degree of success at all has been The Man who Stayed at Home. But then, the attack and counter-attack by German spies is a theme which, though it deals with war times, has none of war’s sanguinary awfulness. It is just a detective drama with a national interest. Indeed, The Man who Stayed at Home is very nearly a war farce - if you can imagine such a thing. It is the kind of play which would have been a success even had it been written and produced in the piping times of peace. There is nothing in it to bring vividly to mind war’s terrible wastefulness, its awful butchery, its utter desolation’ (The Tatler, 1 December 1915). ‘It was inevitable that the play inspired directly by the war should make its appearance in the theatre, but of the four which have been produced only “The Man Who Stayed at Home” has survived. Sir James Barrie’s one-act play, “Der Tag,” as well as the late Stephen Phillips’ “Armageddon,” enjoyed neither a long life nor popularity. Both were gloomy, and the latter, although containing the elements of poetic imagination and dramatic insight, was too scrappy in its incidents, too inclusive to appeal to a public who has in these days especially, a desire for the tangible in the theatre. C. B. Fernald’s “The Day Before the Day” ... failed entirely to suit the mood of the theatre-goer, and was quickly relegated to the list of the unsuccessful efforts’ (The People, 2 January 1916). The Man Who Stayed at Home is ‘a marvellous exception to the general unpopularity of war plays and espionage plots’ (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 4 January 1916). The Man Who Stayed at Home was ‘the only pseudo-war play to do any good’ (The Sportsman, 6 January 1916). 'Mr. Dennis Eadie by the production of “The Man Who Stayed at Home," which has kept the public entertained for five hundred nights, and Mr. Bransby Williams by his sketch, “The Lounger,” have stimulated recruiting’ (The Era, 9 February 1916). ‘We have had a few war sketches at the variety theatres; but so far the only successful play with a war interest has been The Man Who Stayed at Home, which of course does not deal with any incident of actual warfare. As a matter of fact, the public hears, reads, and experiences quite enough of the war tragedy in everyday life, and is glad to forget it for a while in hours of relaxation’ (Cheltenham Looker-On, 18 March 1916). An advertisement in the Daily Mirror, Saturday 18 March, confirms that that was the last day when The Man Who Stayed at Home was performed at the Royalty Theatre and that it was transferring to the Apollo the following Monday.
21 Jun 1915 The Watch DogUnknown
4 Dec 1915 MouseUnknown
5 Dec 1915 MouseProfessional
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Performed by the Pioneer Players. This was the first production following the year-long success of 'The Man Who Stayed At Home' at the Royalty. Spectators could purchase subscription tickets for the season at the cost of Stalls: £1, 11s. 6d; Balcony Stalls £1 1ds.; Balcony, 10s. 6d.
24 Jul 1916 The Man Who Stayed At HomeProfessional
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‘On Monday next Messrs. Vedrenne and Eadie will revive Mr. Lechmere Worrall and Mr. J. E. Harold Terry’s successful comedy, “The Man Who Stayed at Home,” at the Royalty Theatre, with the following cast: Christopher Brent, Mr. Malcolm Cherry; Carl Sanderson, Mr. Frank Woolfe; John Preston, J.P., Mr. Hubert Harben; Percival Pennicuik, Mr. Ernest Graham; Fritz, Mr. Robert Lawlor; Corporal Atkins, Mr. Richard Andean; Mrs. Sanderson, Mrs. Robert Brough; Miriam Leigh, Miss Mignon O’Doherty; Molly Preston, Miss Stella Jesse; Miss Myrtle, Miss Edith Evans; Fraulein Schroeder, Miss Mary Jerrold; Daphne Kidlington, Miss Jean Stirling. Performances will be given at 8.15 every evening, and matinées on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 3.20pm’ ( Westminster Gazette, 22 July 1916). ‘Times have changed since we first made the acquaintance of “The Man Who Stayed At Home,” and to-day even Christopher Brent would scarcely have chosen or been allowed to do detective work, however brilliant, instead of donning khaki; but the spy-peril is sufficient of a reality, and an invasion of the East Coast is sufficiently conceivable for [the play] not to have lost its savour of piquancy. Half the attractiveness, too, of [the] story, as of its hero, was the humour which was so neatly blended with what was exciting and topical; and though seaside girls have no longer occasion to present young men with white feathers, the contrast between bluster which can teach other people how to do things, and modesty which quietly performs its task, has still as much point as ever. So that the revival of the popular piece is welcome, and wins the old laughs' (Illustrated London News, 29 July 1916). ‘One of the best, if not the only really good war play, “The Man Who Stayed at Home,” was well worth reviving, and with so admirable a company as is performing at the Royalty this story of German spies and of an Englishman’s cunning makes a capital entertainment' (The People, 30 July 1916). ‘A diagnosis - excuse the term, though it reeks of the operating theatre, and of invalids - of the general taste in drama during the past year shows that there has been no demand, in particular, for plays meant seriously. So says The Stage. Nor did it want War-plays realistic in character. To the latter, “The Man Who Stayed at Home,” which went on flourishing from the previous season, and “Kulture at Home,” which was by no means a happy study of either English or German manners, formed the nearest approach, and they were plays considerably removed from the terrible actualities of war, for which the theatre has at the present time no aesthetic place. Generally, the favours of the theatre-going public were distributed with an impartial hard to anything in the ordinary run, not too much of anything’ (Hull Daily Mail, 4 August 1916). The closing date for the run of 19 August is given by the fact that it was last advertised in the Daily Mirror on that date and the play The Misleading Lady, with Malcolm Cherry, was ‘now in active rehearsal’ according to the Sunday Mirror of 20 August.
14 Oct 1916 Home-on-LeaveUnknown
10 Jan 1917 RemnantUnknown
4 Jun 1917 Box BUnknown
4 Jun 1917 The FoundationsUnknown
26 Jun 1917 The FoundationsProfessional
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Performed every evening at 8pm with a matinee at 2.30pm on Thursdays and Saturdays. Also performed were 'The Magic Pipe by Dora Brights and Delacre and 'Box B' by Cosmo Gordon-Lennox. "The Sporting Times", 23 June 1917. "At the Royalty we have John Galsworthy trying to be funny and succeeding in being witty. Epigrammatic, too. The dialogue of the "The Foundations" crackles incessantly with verbal fireworks. It is cynical , satirical chatter, Shavian in tone, and the laughter it provokes is wry." "The Sporting Times", 30 June 1917. "It is disappointing know the new triple bill at the Royalty has not found favour, and that it was withdrawn last night. The Galsworthy play alone should have ensured for the entertainment a fairly long run. "The Foundations" had many qualities, and it is a matter of real regret that so few playgoers have taken the opportunity of seeing it. It is to be hoped that Mr. Galsworthy will eventually publish "The Foundations", for it should make excellent reading." "The People", 15 July 1917.
1 Nov 1917 LoyaltyUnknown
28 May 1918 The Man from TorontoUnknown
7 Jun 1918 MarmadukeUnknown
22 Jun 1918 The TitleUnknown
20 Jul 1918 The TitleProfessional
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‘Sir Arnold Bennett scored a distinct success with his new three-act comedy, “The Title,” at the Royalty Theatre, last [sic] night. The story is a slight one, but the dialogue, in which the Press and the Government, as well as the granting of titles, are treated with a satire that is almost Swiftian, is sparkling. The author has views, and although they are exaggerated, behind them all are brains. The last act has an obviously apparent weakness in the. introduction of the bigamist Sampson Straight, whom Mr Nigel Playfair, with all his cleverness, could not make interesting. But for this the play would be a war-time masterpiece. It is, however, one of the few intellectual plays produced this year' (Aberdeen Press and Journal, 22 July 1918). ‘It is good to find that Mr. Arnold Bennett’s recent excursions in the direction of polities have not spoilt his sense of humour, or deprived of its peculiar keenness and subtlety the flair he has for the absurdities and contradictions - for the humanity, in a word - of the life around him. For here, in “The Title,” which filled the little Royalty with laughter on Saturday night, we have an entertainment full to the brim of the wit, spontaneous, ‘right,’ and never strained, of the observation, sincere and direct, of which true comedy is and ever has been compounded. It is, indeed, Mr. Bennett at his very best; and, as everyone knows, there is nothing going nowadays much better than that’ (Morning Post, quoted in the Staffordshire Sentinel, 22 July 1918). ‘It is really a sort of revue of the light side of England in the war, and appearing as it does when victory is in the air its value was heightened’ (Manchester Guardian, quoted in the Staffordshire Sentinel, 22 July 1918). ‘Plenty of unpretentious fun, not too recondite, about honours lists, Governments, newspaper-owning families, schoolboys, modern girls, matrimony, and other not unfamiliar topics. The overworked word camouflage is not disdained. The audience on Saturday night was unmistakably delighted with the whole entertainment’ (The Times, quoted in the Staffordshire Sentinel, 22 July 1918). The Era, 24 July 1918, reviewed ‘“The Title.” Comedy, in Three Acts, by Arnold Bennett. Produced at the Royalty Theatre on Saturday, July 20’. The cast was: Mr. Culver, C. Aubrey Smith; John Culver, Leslie Howard; Tranto, Martin Lewis; Sampson Straight, Nigel Playfair; Mrs. Culver, Eva Moore; Hildegard Culver, Joyce Carey; Miss Starkey, Gertrude Sterroll; and Parlourmaid, [Miss] Archie Varre. The review continued: ‘There is a wealth of typical Arnold Bennett satire – amiable, but with a bite to it – in “The Title.” This is a play that invigorates and fascinates at the same time, invigorates by the sanity of its outlook on life and its contempt of fripperies, and fascinates by the humanity that underlies its most trenchant criticisms. Published in book form, there will be many who, having seen it acted, will seize on it eagerly to relive again in an armchair some of the tickling sensations that it inspired at its performance. The theme is principally a gibe at honours, their worthlessness and the fictitious value that is attached to them; but Mr. Bennett finds time in much brilliant dialogue to quiz happily many other human weaknesses – the Press, Controllers, Journalists, Rationing and particularly the Wonderful Reasoning of Woman' (The Era, 24 July 1918). ‘I shall not be surprised if Mr Arnold Bennett’s comedy, “The Title,” is voted by something like common consent the best thing the war has produced in stage-land' (Musselburgh News, 26 July 1918). ‘Mr. Arnold Bennett’s new comedy, “The Title,” at the Royalty, supplies many tilts at Government, especially in the shape of its distribution of honours, which are now flowing in a stream as lavish as anything that Germany can produce. But Government is not so much his real target as woman, for Mr. Arthur Culver, when he refuses a baronetcy offered to him for his work in accountancy, is attacked first by his wife, then by his typist, and, having repelled both, is compelled to accept the honour in order to save the reputation of his daughter, who has been writing some strong articles for newspapers in the name of “Sampson Straight.” The comedy has real wit in it, and it is brilliantly played' (Graphic, 27 July 1918). ‘For two out of the three acts of his new play, Mr. Arnold Bennett gives us brilliant art and delightful satire on a topic that always lends itself to satirical treatment. If only he could have kept up the standard, we should have had what we have been so long hoping for on the English stage - a true specimen of modern comedy. Mr. Bennett’s choice of subject is apt to the hour; he deals with titles, and the persons who want and do not want such honours. And the idea running through his play is as amusing and acceptable as the clever dialogue which adorns it; that idea is that is the women rather than the men who keep the honours list going ... [Culver's wife is] a fluffy-brained, but self-willed woman, who thinks that a title, like champagne or high heels, is worth suffering for, and does so long to be “ my-ladied by her parlour-maid ... But at length the playwright’s inventiveness seems to have failed him; he appears to have found difficulty in getting his story to a close; and so he makes the mistake of introducing a new character, in whom it is impossible to be interested, and dragging in with him complications that are tedious rather than entertaining Still, let us be glad to get even two-thirds of perfection, especially as the acting, at any rate, does not fall short of being perfect' (Illustrated London News, 27 July 1918). ‘“Dora,” or the Lord Chamberlain, or the Censorship, or whoever it is sees to these things, can’t, as someone says, be quite so ‘tirely sans a sense of humour as we sometimes think they are - or they’d never have passed for publication, and the merriment of the masses, Mr. Arnold Bennett’s delightful satire at the Royalty, The Title. It gets its big dig in at every imaginable official quirk, it pokes fun at Honours, bestowers and bestowed-upon alike, and shows the calm indifference, not to say contempt, of the younger generation to the fetishes its forbears bowed down to and humbly worshipped' (The Tatler, 31 July 1918; 'Dora' is the Defence of the Realm Act). ‘“The Title,” a comedy in three acts, by Arnold Bennett, is written by a man who has achieved success ere this, especially with “Milestones.” When a play is named so as to betray a connection with the giving of titles, it is generally a satire, and that is what Mr. Bennett evidently wanted it to be. In this instance, too, there is a very brilliant dialogue such as this author usually supplies ... The comedy drags a little in places, but the spirited and biting sarcasm of the dialogue à la Bennett is very helpful, and as it is human nature to laugh at others’ foibles there is plenty of amusing entertainment for the audience’ (Gloucester Citizen, 7 August 1918). ‘If clever dialogue, pointed hits at everything and everybody, especially governments, many bright scenes and some really brilliant acting, can achieve success for Mr. Arnold Bennett’s new comedy, The Title, produced the other day at the Royalty Theatre, then the new piece is likely to romp home a very easy winner. It possesses all these things in abundance, only handicapped by a plot, so complicated towards the close that I would not bet my Food Book - one of the most precious things I possess - I could tell it clearly to any person whose brain was not the kind to solve easily tricky mathematical problems ... the victory of Mrs. Culver over her husband, her daughter, and her son constitutes the real story of The Title. The rest hardly matters, and is, moreover, rather confusing ... it is not the things which the people of The Title do which is important - most of them have been done before in such plays as Mary Goes First - it is the things they say which are our only interest. And the things they say ... will bring success to the new play. Of course the Northcliffe Press comes in for quite a lot of amusing criticism. But “The Times” and “The Daily Mail” receive comparatively mild treatment beside the Government, and especially the “Honours List” - the latter of which never wanted it more urgently than it does to-day. As for governments - well, as one of the characters remarks, “Government’s first duty is to live.” And, after all, criticism of the Government is the only thing which keeps it from falling asleep. As someone remarks upon the Royalty stage, “enlightened and patriotic people do not want the Government to fall, but want it to be afraid lest it might” which is much the same thing! For not even governments can fall asleep on the edge of a precipice, as it were. These witty remarks keep the comedy, and incidentally the audience, very much awake. It really matters very little if in unravelling the plot the people in front become almost bewildered to death. They are not watching so much as listening, and what they hear is some of the cleverest, most amusing dialogue that even Mr. Arnold Bennett has ever given us. The Title will be a huge success, because what the characters remark about things in general and a few things like “honours” and governments and newspaper proprietors in particular is what the audience have been wanting to say themselves and didn’t know how to' (The Tatler, 14 August 1918). ‘Farcical comedy is still holding its sway in the London theatres, despite all that has been said concerning the coming popularity of the play with a purpose … Where is the play with the purpose! Still in the imaginary stage unless one is to believe that patriotism as represented by “The pick of the Navy,” “Jolly Jack Tar,” “The Freedom of the Seas,” etc, is the only purpose that was ever meant to be portrayed. Nor can the biting satire of Arnold Bennett in “The Title” be said to fulfil any really useful purpose. No, the time of the problem play is not yet’ (Halifax Evening Courier, 8 January 1919). 'The Title, which celebrated its 250th performance a week ago, will finish its successful career at the Royalty on Saturday, March 15’ (The Stage, 27 February 1919). However, the last advertisements for The Title at the Royalty Theatre were for Saturday 22 March 1919. The play was also reviewed in the following newspapers found in the British Newspaper Archive (BNA): Western Daily Press, 22 July 1918; Hull Daily Mail, 24 July 1918; The Stage, 25 July 1918 (illegible in the BNA); The Sketch, 31 July 1918; Truth, 14 August 1918; The Sketch, 21 August and 25 September 1918; and The Sphere, 21 September 1918.
24 Jul 1918 The Freedom of the SeasUnknown