20 MARCH 1942, Page 11


Professor Mamlock." At the Stein Hall.—" The Knight of the Burning Pestle." At Raynes Park County SchooL-

"Happidrome." At the Prince of Wales. .

it a timely gesture of the Austrian Theatre Club to produce— only for a limited audience, and in the original German- ich Wolf's Professor Mamlock. This play has had a ound influence on democrats in many lands, despite the fact its subject and its political outlook have prevented its pro- on in public in nearly every country (with the exception Russia and Switzerland). Many, however, will have seen the did film version, made by Minkin and Rappoport in the

Soviet Union some years ago, and passed, with cuts and altera- tions, by a grudging censorship in 1938 for exhibition in this country. Indeed, the film version is something of a curiosity in that it is an improvement on the play. The stage story is limited by its concentration on individual characters to the exclusion of the mass-movements—right, middle, or left—with which it essentially deals ; while the film, keeping though it did to the dramatist's sincere and single purpose, expanded and justified his theme to an extent which is bound to be denied to the theatre's three adamantine walls.

Nevertheless Professor Mamlock is a play with many of the hall-marks of greatness. Its propaganda message—direct and searching though it undoubtedly is—never overwhelms the dramatic shape without which the play would be valueless. The first act is the weakest, because the author, despite his choice of scene (the vestibule of a modem operating-theatre) has to force on us the statement of the varied political, or non-political, attitudes which give the key to the behaviour of his main characters. But for the remainder of the drama, with Mamlock himself torn asunder by his son's communism and his own degradation as a Jew under the new Nazi laws, with Mamlock's wife and daughter fiercely accepting the unmerited insults of a State smitten with madness, with the woman doctor whose essential sincerity triumphs (too late) over the superficial attrac- tiveness of the Nazi creed—for all this the dramatist has brought up the big guns of his talent, and presents us with a Doctor's Dilemma which Shaw, had he been born forty years later, would have been proud to write.

Despite limitations of space and lighting, the Austrian Theatre Club gives good account of itself in this production ; special mention must be made of Omri Marle, as Mamlock's son, of Charlotte Kuter, as his wife, and of ioiowglie Sussman, who, as a young communist, brings the house down with a sincerely impassioned accusation of the intellectuals whose failure to act was in large part the key to the moral collapse of the thirties.

Of recent years the annual Shakespearian productions at Raynes Park County School have attracted an increasing number of cognoscenti ; this year, as an experiment which has proved well worth the effort involved, this school has produced a play performed only by junior boys (up to the age of fourteen). For this no better choice than The Knight of the Burning Pestle could have been made ; indeed, it is doubtful if any cast could give a more accurate—let alone a more delightful—rendering of the play in the style for which Beaumont and Fletcher wrote it. The producer (one of the masters at the school) has taken endless pains to gear the " business " to the lines and to the incidents ; the boys play their parts not merely with verve but with a skill which sometimes borders (as with the Citizen's Wife and Pompiona) on the uncanny ; and the general stagecraft (an apron stage is admirably used), to say nothing of the expert sets and lighting, makes this a production which without any exaggeration may be set down as memorable ; it is a thousand pities that such scintillations are not available to a much wider public.

Happidrome is a translation of a popular radio programme to the stage. Previous efforts in this direction have been far from successful, but in this case, chiefly by the judicious injection of new matter—notably Hutch and the Four Charladies—the show has considerable merit. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that Messrs. Lovejoy, Enoch and Ramsbottom represent one world and the succulence of Mr. Robert Nesbitt's West End exquisites represent another ; and it is only with incongruity

that the twain manage to meet. BASIL W1UGHT.