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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Farce on Fools Day

Thursday, April 1st., Cadogan Square, London.

I went out to buy an opera hat and some flowers for Dorothy. Then I worked for an hour and a quarter.

We dined at 7.15 in order to go to "A Cuckoo in the Nest" (with Ralph Lynn therein) at Aldwych Theatre. 

Yvonne Arnaud, Ralph Lynn
and Mary Brough
A Cuckoo in the Nest is a farce by the English playwright Ben Travers. It was first given at the Aldwych Theatre, London, the second in the series of twelve Aldwych farces presented by the actor-manager Tom Walls at the theatre between 1923 and 1933. Several of the cast formed the regular core cast for the later Aldwych farces. The plot concerns two friends, a man and a woman, who are each married to other people. While travelling together, they are obliged by circumstances to share a hotel bedroom. Everyone else assumes the worst, but the two travellers are able to prove their innocence. The piece opened on 22 July 1925 and ran for 376 performances. Travers made a film adaptation, which Walls directed in 1933, with most of the leading members of the stage cast reprising their roles.

The plot is utterly conventional and so are most of the jokes. What makes the play worth seeing is the clowning of Ralph Lynn, trying to sleep under the wash-stand in the bedroom of a lady not his wife. This is very fine indeed; it is a sort of genius; but then I always liked Ralph Lynn. The acting of Yvonne Arnaud is very excellent. She makes a living person out of the dead lines of Ben Travers. Same for Tom Walls (one of the owners of the enterprise); he gave a most finished performance.

Ralph Clifford Lynn (1882 – 1962) was an English actor who had a six-decade career and is best remembered for playing comedy parts in the Aldwych farces first on stage and then in film. Lynn became an actor at the age of 18 and very soon began to be cast in knut or "silly ass" roles. He played such parts as a supporting actor for more than two decades until 1922, when he was cast in the lead of a new West End farce, Tons of Money, in which he achieved immediate stardom. After the success of this play, its co-producer, the actor-manager Tom Walls, leased the Aldwych Theatre in London, where for the next ten years he and Lynn co-starred in a series of successful farces, most of which were written for them by Ben Travers
Many of the Aldwych farces were made into films starring Lynn and Walls, and the two were ranked among the most popular British film actors of the 1930s. He continued to play in both new works by Travers and others, and in revivals of his earlier successes, and made his last London appearance in 1958. Germaine Yvonne Arnaud (1890 – 1958) was a French-born British pianist, singer and actress. After beginning a career as a concert pianist as a child, Arnaud acted in musical comedies. She switched to non-musical comedy and drama around 1920 and was one of the players in the second of the Aldwych farces, A Cuckoo in the Nest, a hit in 1925.

All Fools Day, so appropriate that we should have attended the theatre to see a farce!

Additionally for April 1st., see 'Theatrical adventures'

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.

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