26 NOVEMBER 1965, Page 10


From: S. A. Allison and others, The Duchess of Hamilton, Lord Salerno, J. R. Hall, R. L. Travers, Alexander Walker,,Mrs. Iris Glover, Clive Irving, Ruth Elliott, Dennis Hackett.

A Banned Play

SIR,—The activities of the Lord Chamberlain never cease to amaze. He has seen fit to refuse a licence for a play entered by Wadham College for the Oxford inter-college drama competition. The play is a conventional and inoffensive representation of the Crucifixion. The author, a freshman, has written a Christian play from Christian motives, yet has been refused a licence by the Lord Chamberlain because 'it has been his considered policy not to licence any portrayal of Christ on the general stage.'

The object of this policy, no doubt, is to restrain playwrights from injuring the beliefs of practising Christians. But its indiscriminate application, in this case at least, has resulted in the suppression of a play at which no Christian could fake offence. Indeed, Peter Adamson, the author and producer, will next Easter produce the play under the auspices of a church. (The Lord Chamberlain's rule does not apply 'to such plays being enacted in consecrated buildings where the performance is more an act of worship.') Censorship which seeks to destroy what the Establishment opposes is bad enough, but cen- sorship which destroys what the Establishment pur- ports to uphold is just ludicrous.

Most of the actors and of those who have read the play do not share the author's religious beliefs. But no one has been able to question Peter Adamson's sincerity, or to doubt the orthodoxy of the view his play puts forward.

By returning the reading fee of two guineas, the Lord Chamberlain has led Mr. Adamson to believe that the play was not even read, but rejected simply after a cursory glance at the dramatis personae.