Great War Theatre

Address: London, UK

Performances at this Theatre

N/A Dawn in Bethnal GreenUnknown
11 Mar 1915 The New WordUnknown
11 Mar 1915 Rosy RaptureUnknown
22 Mar 1915 The New WordProfessional
Read Narrative
‘The new Barrie programme at the Duke of York’s Theatre began very well with a one-act play called “The New Word.” This is a charming work, full of tender humour, and exhibiting throughout the real Barrie touch. The purpose is to show the curious restraint of feeling often displayed by British fathers and their grown-up sons to one another. At first it seemed entirely comical in a rather cruel way, the father being sarcastic about the first appearance of the son in his uniform as Second Lieutenant, but afterwards came a scene Between the father and son, in which it appeared that the war had broken down the barrier between them. So, in a strange, timid way, the hearts of the two men groped towards one another, and the piece ended on a touching note of tenderness. Mr O. B. Clarence played the part of father very finely; Mr. Geoffrey Wilmer acted excellently as the son; and the mother was represented beautifully by Miss Helen Haye’. The Scotsman, Tuesday 23 March 1915. ‘we had half an hour of the real Barrie in “The New Word.” It was the Barrie who exaggerates even the plain domestic emotions, and who somehow manages to strike jarring notes when he would be most tender and human. But nevertheless “The New Word,” which presented us with a scene in “Any Home Nowadays,” touched a very true and emotional note. A father proud of his second-lieutenant son and the son of his father, yet each hiding feelings under a veneer of indifference, and finally admitting with a shyness only men can understand how much they were to each other - that was the real Barrie, and the audience so acclaimed it. Mr. O. B. Clarence and Mr. Wilmer were very natural as father and son’. The Globe, 23 March 1915. ‘The Barrieishness that is absent from “Rosy Rapture” is to be found in full measure in “The New Word”, described by the author as a “fireside scene.” Each one of the four characters in this perfect little play is a real, living, breathing person. We have met them all, the adorable, fond, foolish and yet very wise mother, the enthusiastic hero-worshipping little flapper sister, and the menfolk of the family, father and son, utterly British, what the frankly emotional Jew calls “Goy,” which, being translated, is inarticulate, loathing to display emotion, veiling feeling under an assumption of “chaff.” The son is a “second lieutenant” (that is the new word that has become a household term since the beginning of August, 1914), and he has put on his new uniform for the first time, and is going off early the next morning. Mother and flapper sister are overflowing with love, solicitude, and admiration which the second lieutenant, nineteen years of age (“it is the great age to be to-day”), bears with half-shamefaced pride. Mother leaves husband and son to have a little talk. Admitting the “awkward relationship” that exists between them, they acknowledge “that they have often wondered what sort of a fellow the other was,” and with many jerks and pauses the father blurts out that he is “fond of” his son and the son that he has “bragged about” his father at school. They are so much alike fundamentally that they understand one another without clumsy speech. The war has unsealed their lips; the war has made the father realise that he is a middle-aged man envying the “lucky dogs who are damned twice a day on parade.” With a tremendous effort father and son manage to show a little of the deep emotion that is swaying(?) them – a very little, but just enough to satisfy both. It is impossible for this gem of a play to be more exquisitely acted than it is at the Duke of York’s Theatre at the present time. It is enough to say that Mr. O. B. Clarence is the Father and Miss Helen Haye is the Mother. More perfect Barrie actors than these two cannot be found. Mr. Geoffrey Wilmer is admirable as the Son, and Miss Gertrude Lang is an enchanting little Sister’. The Era, 24 March 1915. ‘In the new programme which Mr Frohman offers at the Duke of York’s there is both the real Barrie and the imitation article. “The New Word” is the real Barrie, and no one who listens to the conversation between the 2nd-lieutenant son and the curiously nervous father in what is described as a “fireside scene” can fail to be touched by the sentiment and the humour. Sir James has a genius for putting into language that which we all are thinking and feeling. Here we have an episode which must have been witnessed in thousands of homes since war began. Sons who were held of little account by the stern parent have become, because of their uniform, the master of the house. Everyone submits to the hero in khaki; he is the adored of mother and daughter, while father, if with a struggle, yields to him pride of place. The war has meant the emancipation of the young man, and to listen to the talk between this particular father and son is to understand how the hardness and the restraint which too often grow up between them is broken under the stress of these new conditions, and how the affection of the one and the love of the other well up at the right moment until the new word is heard bringing joy to him who at last is addressed as “dear father.” Dear we take to be the new word. The trifle, very human and very tender, was admirably played by Mr. O. B. Clarence and Mr. G. Wilmer; Miss H. Haye and Miss G. Lang appearing as mother and daughter’. The People, 28 March 1915. ‘we had the real Barrie in the little gem called “The New Word,” … Here, with the nicest humour and delicate tenderness, the author made fun of our English reticence, and the difficulty of a father and grown-up son in showing to one another their mutual affection. Then, with the finest art, Sir James showed how the war and the son’s uniform had broken down the barrier, and their affection became articulate - very timidly articulate. Nobody else could have written this delightful short play. Barrie at his best … Mr. O. B. Clarence presented the father quite perfectly, and Miss Helen Haye acted the mother’s part beautifully’. The Sketch, 31 March 1915. The Globe, Saturday 29 May 1915, advertised for that day the last two performances of ‘Rosy Rapture’ and ‘The New Word’ at the Duke of York’s Theatre. ‘Although [Barrie’s] revue [Rosy Rapture] was given an unfavourable review from The Times, The New Word was well received, running for seventy-eight performances’. Jenna L Kubly, ‘J. M. Barrie and World War I’ in Tholas-Disset C. and Ritzenhoff K. A. (eds), Humor, Entertainment, and Popular Culture During World War I, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2015, pp. 197-208 at p. 198.
29 May 1916 Daddy Long LegsUnknown