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Saturday, 17 May 2014

Theatrical contrasts

Saturday, May 17th., Cadogan Square, London.

Last night to Lena Ashwell's "Once a week players" performance of Shaw's "The Devil's Disciple" at the Century Theatre, Archer Street, North Kensington. Produced by Beatrice Wilson. Beatrice said she had to produce the play in ten days, and they always did plays in this period. They dispensed practically with props and scenery. Everything very poor and cheap; but nicely done - not overstepping the modesty of nature - and the play held you, except the last five minutes which were very poor. A fellow named Henry Oscar played the lead. Evidently of much experience. Handsome. He did very well. Has done Shakespeare tours. The dialogue is exquisitely written - better than Shaw is writing now, I think. Less glittering, but as pure and fine as Congreve.
For more on Lena Ashwell see 'A fascinating woman'

I contrasted all this poverty with the great costliness of our Drury Lane production, with its lavish advertising, etc. Dean is producing "London Life" with the most notable skill. You would say he knew everything about plays and producing. Yet the taste of people generally fails somewhere. He wanted me to introduce into the part of the Prime Minister Holyoke (supposed to be a mixture of Asquith and Balfour with a touch of Rosebery) the words "Wait and see". I refused absolutely at once. Imagine the cheap roar which would follow such a despicable sally.

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