The theater, the cinema and ourselves (1947)

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POSTSCRIPT There is inevitably a gap—this time happily of only a few months—-between the completion of a book and its publication, and during this period things happen. maya at the Arts was an interesting, but crude, attempt to prove that the "prostitute" is always true to type. To bolster up this belief and give it a slightly distinguished atmosphere the play adopts the technique, several hundred years too late, of an Everyman or Morality play. But a Bunyan re-chauffe' with no Pilgrim and no Progress and instead a mere garniture of smart typical sayings, all spoken at the right moment, is a sickly dish to set before the pit or even the stalls, and it is a relief to hear the young school-girl say with personal conviction to her school-boy friend—"I'll never forget you, no never". Midst so much that is unconvincing the simplest words come as a relief. From America we have had the voice of the turtle, an attempt to prove, not that prostitutes are a type by themselves, but that really smart women are amateur prostitutes. But the type has been merely enlarged by what we may call a sub- section, and it is equally dull. The author of young woodley, so human a play, has chosen to prostitute his talents so that we in London may wonder once more why Americans like this sort of thing. The inadequacy of Noel Coward's peace in our time may be due to a decline in Coward himself or merely to a changing public that is no longer interested in him. Time alone will show what this failure, a failure more in integrity of thought and feeling than in anything else, pointed to. Meantime the dislike of "acting", even if it is merely the "behaviour" of a Noel Coward, increases, and the atmosphere that sur- rounds the theatre and the cinema is becoming clearer. Popular education, psycho- logy slowly sinking into the minds and hearts of the ordinary man, a tendency to more than merely yield to emotions, has done its work. For better or worse we have tasted of the Tree of Knowledge and know sincerity and insincerity whenever we see it. A visit to a performance of wings at Oxford on an August evening in 1947—a performance of remarkable integrity and charm—showed how well individual per- formances throughout the whole cast could be preserved even in a full scale musical revue. Large musical shows usually represent little that is intimate or personal, a perfectly drilled chorus, evenly matched, stereotyped jokes and stylised tenderness usually predominate. But here in Oxford on that warm summer evening the Royal Air Force produced something quite different. The large chorus, often fifty or a hundred on the stage at the same time, were never incoherent in their minglings, yet there was no suggestion of drilling or stage management; each man and woman, as at an Oberammergau play, was essentially himself or herself, essentially an individual— for had they not come over for each performance, very much individuals, in motor