25 JUNE 1948, Page 13



Cage Me a Peacock." By Noel Langley. (Strand.)

WHEN I see the words " A New Musical " a faint pedantic frisson of disapproval gives way almost immediately to a feeling of admira- tion for the prudent omission of the noun. A new musical what ? Come in, say the management, and see • we are not committing our- selves at this stage. Mr. Langley's offering has more novelty than many productions thus labelled but falls short of excellence. It is set in Ancient Rome and much of its humour is to be found—or anyhow sought—in the contrast between this classical setting and the modern idiom employed by the characters. We are, of course, much more likely to laugh at the words " O.K., Chief 1 " if they are spoken by a man in a toga than if they are spoken by a man in tweeds, and of this natural law Mr. Langley takes the fullest advantage. He supplies in addition a number of lines which are witty in their own right, and both his own and Mr. Adam Leslie's lyrics are, like Miss Eve Lynd's music, slick and gay though a little bit synthetic. The piece is well mounted and continually shows a promise which it never in practice fulfils. The fault is certainly not that of Miss Yolande Donlan, whose wanton heroine has immense charm and vitality. Mr. Bill O'Connor as Mercury sings well, Miss Linda Gray gives edge to Cassandra's acerbities, Miss Mai Bacon is a very genial bawd and Mr. Simon Lack a personable Pretorian. But there is something about the writing—a slightly arch vulgarity, perhaps—which prevents us from being captivated, and Cage Me a Peacock is not the minor masterpiece which readers of Hocus Pocus have a right (and will continue) to expect from Mr. Langley.