25 NOVEMBER 1955, Page 18

THE STRONG ARE LONELY. By Fritz Hochwalder. (Piccadilly.) IT is

not often that we see what is called a 'strong' situation on the London stage. Fritz Hochwaldcr's powerful melodrama about the fate of the Jesuit settlements in Paraguay was therefore very welcome in spite of the super- ficial resemblance of some of its expository passages to bits of Savonarqja Brown. This story of how, through obedience, a conquista- dor of a Father Provincial must consent to the destruction of his life's work has, of course, its lesson for our time. There is only one other organisation that harrows the souls of its servants in this way. For Father Provincial read Borodine. That the limb should be cut off for the good of the whole body is, no doubt, sound doctrine, but few surgeons pause to consider how the limb feels about it.

Donald Wolfit gives the performance one might expect as the limb. He is one of the few English actors who can really let it rip and almost the only one to have a voice adapted to the grand manner. It is, therefore, all the more unfortunate that he should sin by the slowness of his playing of those scenes in which he himself appears to most advantage, and should be surrounded by players whom the word 'bit' would dignify. Robert Harris makes a good Spanish officer, a human official forced to be inhumane, while Ernest Milton provides what is the most effective scene in the play by his mincing portrayal of the order's emissary. How much better Mr. Wolfit acts when he is partnered by Mr. Milton, when he has oppo- site him someone who has something to give. Otherwise, it is better to pass over acting and production. They spoiled a fine play.