Characters in order of appearance:
|Captain hardy||P. M. BAKER|
|Lieutenant Osborne||I. M FLOWERS|
|Private Mason||G. S. FINLAYSON|
|Lance-Corporal Broughton||J. S. BINGHAM|
|2nd Lieutenant Raleigh||L. MAY|
|Captain Stanhope||C. B. DAWSON|
|2nd Lieutenant Trotter||P. PETERKEN|
|2nd Lieutenant Hibbert||H. R. WINDLE|
|The Company Sergeant-Major||G. M. MACBETH|
|The Colonel||W. R. LAYLAND|
|A German Soldier||J. M. DAWSON|
The Scene is laid in a dug-out in the British trenches before St. Quentin, March, 1918.
ACT I. Monday evening.
ACT II. Scene 1. Tuesday morning.
Scene 2. Tuesday afternoon.
ACT III. Scene 1. Wednesday afternoon.
Scene 2. Wednesday night.
Scene 3. Thursday, towards dawn.
There will be an interval of ten minutes after ACT II.
The Play produced by E. F. WATLING.
Setting by C. HELLIWELL.
Uniforms and equipment by CHAS. H. FOX LTD.
Stage Manager: A. C. JOHANSSON.
Assistants: E. BURKINSHAW, M. A. ROBINSON, M. R. G. KENT, C. J. RICHARDSON.
Lighting: H. REDSTON, P. W. SMITH, L. J. HUNT, I. FELLS.
Business Manager: C. J. MAGRATH.
Ten years elapsed after the end of the First World War before the first serious dramatic work inspired by that experience reached the stage, and a tentative experiment by an unknown writer became the most famous and successful play of its age. Translated into every civilised tongue, it went round the world as a complete expression of the tragedy, and the incidental comedies, of twentieth-century war-or more particularly of war as an incident in the lives of a handful of ordinary, unheroic and peaceful-minded men. R. C. Sherriff's only other successful play, Badger's Green, is a pleasant comedy about the little tragedies of a village cricket club. Journey's End owes some of its appeal to the same flair for the trivial humours that can illuminate even the most sombre surroundings; but its message as a whole is stern, and we offer it with a sense of its significance for a second generation touched by events even more catastrophic, though not greatly different, in their personal impact, from those which their fathers experienced.
School D.S. - 1927, THE RIVALS. 1928, TWELFTH NIGHT. 1929, LE VOYAGE DE M. PERRICHON. 19.30, LIONEL AND CLARISSA. 1931, THE IMAGINARY INVALID. 1932, THE ACHARNIANS. 1933, HENRY IV, PART I. 1934, THE ALCHEMIST. 1935, TRIAL BY JURY, THIRTY MINUTES IN A STREET and FATHER NOAH. 1937, HAMLET. 1938, LOLANTHE. 1940, CHARLEY'S AUNT. 1941, THE LITTLE MAN and PLAYBOX. 1942, THE RIVALS. 1911, BADGER'S GREEN. 1945, BIRD IN HAND. 1946, THE APPLE CART.
Staff D.S. - 1927, THE RISING GENERATION. 1928. TILLY OF BLOOMSBURY. 1929, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. 1930, AMBROSE APPLEJOHN'S ADVENTURE. 1931, THE SPORT OF KINGS. 1932, BIRD IN HAND. 1933, ARMS AND THE MAN. 1934, THE PATH OF GLORY. 1937, LABURNUM GROVE. 1941, TWO GENTLEMEN OF SOHO.
Old Edwardians D.S. - 1929, OFFICER 666. 1930, THE PRIVATE SECRETARY. 1931, RAFFLES. 1932, THE FOURTH WALL. 1933. AREN'T WE ALL? 1935, R.U.R. 1936, THE APPLE CART. 1940, PADDY THE NEXT BEST THING.
MR. WATLING and the Dramatic Society have pulled it off again. Last year the news that they intended to produce The Apple Cart was received with foreboding by many people, who in the upshot were completely captivated by the performance of Kendrick and the rest. With even greater foreboding did we hear this year of the projected Journey's End. Those who had seen the original production could not believe that the play, which in 1928, with Laurence Olivier and Robert Speaight seemed so poignant, could be effective if performed by amateurs in 1948. And what was the outcome? I for one was as shattered as ever by the impact. Journey's End makes a direct attack on the nerves and heartstrings. For that very reason this production's "Greek tragedy ending" with Stanhope leaving the dead Raleigh at peace as he goes out to face the great attack (an ending made necessary by conditions of the stage at King Edward's) is less effective than the final collapse of the dug-out amid a crescendo of noise and darkness.
Stanhope must dominate the play, and in this C. B. Dawson was completely successful. He conveyed extremely well the impression of a leader whose concealed sensitivity is strained beyond endurance.
The intolerable scene with Raleigh after Osborne's death was as agonising as ever. But if Stanhope is the dominating figure, Osborne is quite as important. The attack on our nerves comes chiefly from Stanhope, the touch on our heartstrings from Osborne. Here was indeed the utterly reliable second-in-command, the middle-aged schoolmaster, the confidant. I. M. Flowers was well cast, but there was more to his performance than natural suitability. There were some most pleasingly subtle touches, as in his reading aloud of Raleigh's letter, and again when in some of his reassuring jokes he showed the haunted look behind the smile.
Osborne came naturally to Flowers, but the boyish enthusiasm of Raleigh was not so apt for L. May. Raleigh's now outmoded slang, his "fearfully " and his "topping," is the one thing that dates the play, and it is not yet so remote in time as not to seem incongruous. May's performance, though a little slow, was good but rather a tour de force. Hibbert was very well done by H. R. Windle. He was admirable as the funk; as the lewd reveller he was slightly less convincing. It was very unfortunate that he was too ill to play at the final performance, but J. M. Dawson made a surprisingly good attempt at the part with only a few hours notice. J. P. Peterken made a good Trotter; though he did not always resist the temptation to get easy laughs, he made it clear that there is a fundamental solidity and goodness of heart behind Trotter's easy-going attitude and care for his own comfort.
Of the minor parts the batman Mason was admirably played by G. S. Finlayson. He needs to control an irritating mannerism of throwing up his hands, but his performance had a delightful solemnity, a sort of dryness which made it an authentic portrait of an officer's servant. Captain Hardy has nothing but the ungrateful task of warming up the first few minutes of the play, and this was well done by P. M. Baker. The Colonel (W. R. Layland) needed more dignity; he should be a weaker character than Stanhope, but he must present a facade. The Sergeant-Major (G. M. Macbeth) was on the first night grotesquely made up, and occasionally inaudible, but was much more convincing on the Saturday. I preferred J. S. Bingham's understudy performance of the German soldier to J. M. Dawson's original one.
The setting and the effects were satisfactory; it is a surprising proof of the spell of the stage illusion that one accepted as adequate representation of the gunfire the beating of a drum. But in the end one comes back to Mr. Watling; not till one has talked with the cast does one realise that his genius for production is not only a question of his remarkable insight and sensitivity; it is also an infinite capacity for taking pains.
E. D. T.
(Photographs by G. S. Finlayson and P. G. Mott; sketches below by H. Redston)