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Monday, 1 April 2013

Theatrical adventures

Tuesday, April 1st., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

On Tuesday, February 25th., I came to live at Comarques. It is a Georgian mansion, named after a Huguenot family who originally settled there. Seems very appropriate that it should have a French name - people will probably think it was our idea. Seems strange to find myself living in a country mansion at all! Will it suit me; will I be able to carry it off? Marguerite came a day before me, but the last carpet was only put down (on the stairs) on Saturday last. Even now fenders and fire irons are not complete. And we find that we could do with many more small pieces of ornamental furniture to finish off the appearance of the rooms. I must admit that I am very particular about furnishing, as anyone would know who had read "Clayhanger".
(See also 'Wartime Interlude - September 1st. <http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/wartime-interlude.html>)

On Monday, March 3rd., we went to London (Berkeley Hotel) for the dinner to celebrate Mrs. Atkins's recovery, and for the anniversary of "Milestones", and for the rehearsals of "The Great Adventure". After being very lively at the Atkinses' dinner at the Cafe Royal on Monday, Marguerite fell ill. No sleep. No sleep for two nights. I had Farrar and then two nurses. One of them, an Irish woman, lively, who broke most things she touched, came up with us to Comarques on Monday,March 10th., and stayed about a week. The "Milestones" anniversary supper was a great success except for the absence of Marguerite.

"Great Adventure" produced at Kingsway on Tuesday, March 25th.

The Novelty Theatre (later renamed the Great Queen Street Theatre from 1900 to 1907, and the Kingsway Theatre from 1907 to 1941) was a London theatre. It opened in 1882 in Great Queen Street and was accessed off Little Queen Street until 1905, and from the new Kingsway road from 1905 onwards. It hosted the London premiere of A Doll's House in 1889. The theatre closed in 1941 and was demolished in 1959.

Marguerite said it was the most successful first night of mine she had been at. But she's been to so few. It finished at 11.40 and thus made the critics cross.

Knoblock told me about a fortnight ago that in discussing terms for French contract for "Milestones" with Lucien Guitry he said, to shelter himself behind me as regards certain conditions: "M. Bennett est tres autoritaire," whereupon Guitry said: "Quelle belle chose, l'autorite: mais - pourtant ...!"

We went to London on Saturday last, and I saw my first public performance of "The Great Adventure". House held £125. Barrie with an adopted son on either side was there and he never laughed. C.K. Shorter in a box opposite roared nearly all the time. Wish Wynne a genius. (See also 'Wet and dark in London' March 17th. <http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/wet-and-dark-in-london.html>) I formed the opinion that there was a goodish run in the play.

Janet Beecher as Alice Chalice
in an  American production
of "The Great Adventure"
Vincent Price and Patricia Routledge
in "Darling of the Day"
In 1913 Bennett had adapted “Buried Alive” as a play called “The Great Adventure”. In 1915 it became a silent-film in the UK with Henry Ainley, and again in the USA in 1921 with Lionel Barrymore and the screen debut of Fredric March. “His Double Life” (1933) with Roland Young and Lillian Gish was a further film adaptation of the play, and there was another version for BBC Television in 1939, with Leonard Sachs, Felix Aylmer and Finlay Currie in the cast. “The Great Adventure” was also filmed in 1943 as “Holy Matrimony” with Monty Woolley and Gracie Fields. This version was adapted by Nunnally Johnson who was eventually to write the book for the stage musical version of “Buried Alive”. He had already been Oscar-nominated for writing “Holy Matrimony” and, before that, “The Grapes of Wrath”. He was one of the most experienced writer-directors in Hollywood who was generally also his own producer as he was allergic to others pecking around him and changing what he had written. However, the stage musical of “Buried Alive”, or “Darling of the Day” as its final title became, had a very tortuous life getting on to Broadway in 1968.

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