The theater, the cinema and ourselves (1947)

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rather than of an' iron grasp, and one feels that something ought to be done. The answer, of course, is kindliness, but kindliness is not there. Of the difficulty of receiving a young German into an English or American home we have had two striking examples, each in its way as pathetic as marrowbone lane. Frieda arrives in her English home, tentative but cheerful, the fiancee of a young Englishman, and only gradually succumbs to a host of frustrations. The boy in to-morrow the world, plunged into an American home, is younger and his fate is perhaps even more painful, he is so confident that the Nazi faith is right and he feels it is almost unbelievable that people who wish to be friendly with him should not believe in it too. If painfulness produces reform—and perhaps it does— these plays should have done a lot to further a better understanding between us and the young German of to-day. present laughter is one of the most entertaining and in its way one of the most significant moral plays of recent years. "I am sick to death of people acting all over the place," Noel Coward exclaims, for who can believe that Noel Coward in the play is anyone but himself, Garry Essendine is the flimsiest disguise. Outwardly the play is nothing but a bit of impudence, a kind of French farce that might have been played to crowded houses at Margate or Monte Carlo for it savours of both. Inwardly it is a personal recantation, or a very plausable imitation, of an uncomfortable past. Who at one time or another has not been wearied by the followers that Noel Coward created, unconsciouly burlesquing their idol, insufferable bores to all but their own clique? Here on the Haymarket stage the followers have come home to roost and the idol suffers. It was no doubt written as a comedy but to-day it hovers on the brink of something more. Leave your vapid frivolities, they won't live, his real well- wishers urge, and do something worthy, act peer gynt! To hell with you, Mr. Essendine Coward exclaims, if you mention my acting peer gynt again I will —if I have to hire Drury Lane to do it. Mr. Coward, in his maturity, if we may point a moral, has a charm too fine, too fragile, to be wasted on camp followers. We await the next act, for the last act leaves us with a problem, it only gives us present laughter. Where or when the next phase will take place no one knows—least of all probably Mr. Essendine Coward. It may not be for several years and in the meantime the orchestra may play many interludes. Possibly there is an even better way of conveying a moral, the way of the fairy tale which is not for a time but for all ages. There are certainly fairy tales on the stage and screen to-day that equal, if not surpass, the Grimms or Hans Anderson, they are as traditional and probably as lasting. Long after the repetative antics of many of our popular stage and screen actors and actresses are forgotten the appeal of Veronica Lake's i married a witch will survive with its simple but important moral that love conquers even witchcraft. Each succeeding generation will surely understand its varying charm and its central theme for who has not felt the power of love battering down our daily illusions, the fear of some witchcraft, whatever its form, which seems to overwhelm us? "And the moral of that—" is surely not an unsatisfactory way in which to leave a play, for are we not all in our own peculiar way moralists at heart? 21