A MARTYR, A SCAPEGOAT
The Role of Robert Speaight _Agamemnon
Robert Speaight will soon be known as the stage's doomed man. On the boards of the Duchess Theatre during the week he walks as Saint and Martyr, Becket; at the Westminster on Sunday he walked as King and Scapegoat, Agamemnon.
It was that ambitious company of the Group Theatre who sponsored this production of Aeschylus's masterpiece, and using a new translation of the Greek original by Louis Macneice and Benjamin Britten's specially composed music the tragedy was given a modern existence which justified itself by its singular fitness and utter beauty.
If Aeschylus could have been surprised at anything in the production, surely he would have asked the explanation of the masked chorus sleekly attired in dinner jackets. Probably he would have been little satisfied by the producer's footnote stating that the chorus is the bridge connecting players with the audience, hence their dress suggesting both sides Of the proscenium arch.
The language of Mr. Maeneice has all the drama of directness and all the flowing motion of poetry, too, and the whole awful solemnity of this tragedy, is before the audience by every word, by every action, even, of a cast whose identities lose themselves in the hugeness of the impending horror.
The Agamemnon of Robert Speaight is always heavy with his doom, Veronica Turleigh has personified ruthless vengeance as Clytemnestra, and the violent prophetess Cassandra is given her full measure of wild fearfulness by Vivienne Bennett.
If the production was a little clouded by an over-zealous and sometimes simultaneous use, of music, ballet and chorus, its whole magnificence of conception makes such a criticism appear as mere carping.
Another performance will be given at the Westminster Theatre on Sunday next, November 8.
Murder in the Cathedral
After 225 performances at the Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate, Murder in the Cathedral was presented at a West End theatre, the Duchess, on Friday last. The cast is unchanged, and the intimacy given the play in the smaller theatre still survive& As for the production itself, it has been praised too many times on this page to need any further comment. Murder in the Cathedral is a great play arid it deserves
a phenomenal success. I. W.
Till The Cows Come Home
Whatever criticisms follow after this opening remark, let it be firmly grasped that Till the Cows Come Home (St. Martin's) fulfils every demand of After-Dinner Entertainment—whether dining encourages an aptitude for thought or induces mental coma, each state will find its complement in this play.
It is an accommodating piece of work insofar as it is just what you like to put
into it. When the young political freelance (Leslie Banks) while taking a rest cure in country from campaigning, makes local war in the village, one may merely chortle in one's whiskers at the funny sight of five lethargic yokels worked into a frenzy of warring spirit by the diatribes practised upon them—or one may take the matter far more seriously. One may sit
down and consider the political message that the situation conveys. One may apply the unsuccessful effort of increasing armaments to win village battles with the probably unsuccess achieved in wider spheres.
It is "as you like it"—but if you like it serious you will find the political theory incomplete and clouded by the necessities of a conventional comedy-romance form— if on the other hand, you like it for fun you ought to be entirely satisfied.
There is everything in the cast to make you satisfied. Leslie Banks is one long burst of energy; C. V. France is his antithesis in restrained quietude; Adrianne Allen combines charm with character, and Charles Groves has wit allied with wisdom in his perfect butler-manner.
I am unable wholeheartedly to recommend All-In Marriage at the Comedy Theatre, as a really good domestic comedy.
Based on the accepted theory that the stage should act as a mirror reflecting the realities and idiosyncracies of the world we live in, All-in Marriage fails by its unreality.
There is the father of a family, a Judge, seeking parliamentary election, who admits more anxiety concerning his nomination than his election. Anyone who knows anything about political procedure, will realise that nomination is a mere matter of form and can always be secured without any difficulty, but election is quite another matter.
Then there are the three daughters, one newly engaged and the other two have left their respective husbands and returned home, the one on the grounds that she has been neglected, and the other that her husband has been too attentive to her. The mother to whom they have apparently come for advice, determines that the best way to effect a reconciliation is to leave home herself creating another domestic tragedy. Despite all this, the unmarried daughter decides to marry, and the curtain descends with this situation well advanced.
There are, of course, other characters— a rather unconvincing hobbledehoy and a very senile grandfather, whose surprise that a contraption with so much wire should be called a wireless set was perhaps the brightest moment in the piece. Harcourt Williams, as the Judge, Marion Hardy as the unmarried daughter, and Violet Farebrother as the mother, made the most of the material at hand, but unfortunately the odds were terribly against them.
WALTER a BECKETT.