21 NOVEMBER 1931, Page 47


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

Six,—With no claim to step in where, with high courage and great ability, Mr. Hamilton Fyfe has dared to tread, I yet presume upon your consideration to say that, in the opinion of an occasional theatregoer during the past fifty years, a debt of gratitude is due to Mr. Fyfe for his high-minded protest against what he fitly terms " the scabrous advertising " of plays and films at the present day, and, by .inference, against the plays and films themselves, which by .subtle craft have, passed from one stage of prurience to another, until it would appear they can . no further. go in their defiance of the decencies, unless at length the lewdness_ and lechery of the Restoration. period are to be outdone.

.1. R. Green, treating of this phase in the history of the drama in this country, sayi :—"The.dramatist piqued himself upon the frankness and plain dealing which painted the world as he saw it," and assumedly the modern playwright and tilinwright as surely are pluming themselves upon the boldness and. brutal .accuraey with which they mirror the modern world, and this England of. ours, as they see it ! Green goes on to say that it was " easy to exaggerate the extent of the reaction " which followed upon the pettiness and,tyranny of Puritanism ; because apparently " its more violent forms were practically confined to the capital and the. court." But such is not the case to-day. . The theatre raises its curtain in every city and provincial town, and the. picture-house is all but universal in town and village.

It is, therefore, difficult to exaggerate the harm which is being done, both by the exhibition of shameless plays and (Him, and by their lurid advertisement. If, Sir, your pages could be opened to further protest from those who have the greatest right and ability to speak on this subject, a timely service would be done to the theatre itself, as well as to the cause of- morality and our national character, which necessarily suffers detraction by the exposure of the baser facets of it, on the face of things commercially so profitable to portray.- 1 am, Sir, &c., WeillandS, West Byfleet.-