2 MARCH 1929, Page 12

The Theatre

[" Tun Itumoua." BY C. K. MUNRO. AT TEE CotiraT Tnexrax. " By ADDRY .rulp 1+KIVENEY CARTZN. AT TEE ST. JAMES' TIMATRE.] ONE'S first thought or duty is to welcome the revival of Mr. Munro's play as another piece of dramatic propaganda against war.: - „ . It proclaims itself " a study in organization, a study in modern tendencies which are perfectly general." After seeing the play I cannot help exclaiming " What optimism 1 For, all through, the picture is of a deliberate conspiracy, cun- ningly promoted by a .few in reliance upon the gullibility of

the many. The vulgar women and greedy company-promoters in prologue and epilogue—typically or expressionistically treated—spread the rumour of an attack upon the " civilized," or industrialized, Balkan State by the " barbarous," because not yet industrialized, one. (Good stuff, here, about the current confusion betWeen " civilization " and dividend-

grabbing !y The diplomatists--fantastically represented by a young Foreign Office " knut "—fall. in with their " spheres of influence " cant. Those dreadful newspapers take it up as a sensation. Gradually it falls into the street and " pat; riotism " begins to be enough " to keep the -ball rolling. It falls into Downing Street and a passably real Prime Minister—, played, with great discretion; by Mr. Charles Carsonfingers it, in electioneering nervousness, as it is thrown at him by Tory and Labour deputations.. A young English girl has been killed by a chance shot out there amongst the barbarians: Is not that enough ? Must England's beauty perish ?." " Have a) smack at 'em ! " says the chorus, as a man in the

street. Situation out of hand 1 •

And, after that, how easy to cheer our boys as they embark at the docks ; how likely that the man in the street will lose his only son and be consequently dashed in his approval of war-=alas, I-fear many of thein.were not slashed even by that I —and how probable that a kindly bun-loving parson should be ready to console the bereaved by . explaining to them why " their sacrifice was not made in vain.' =meaning, of courses the sacrifice made by their boys. - Optimism ! I repeat. - If one could only believe that You could isolate, define, detect- and pin down the conspirators ; that young diplomatists thus. sought and found- immediate responsibility. in collusion with high finance ; that politicians, and especially Ministers, made up their minds, instead of drifting and wobbling ; that, in fact, war were a matter of connected and logical design Instead, we_ stumble towards wars ; stagger away from. them ; -simultaneously prepare to fight them and to prevent them ; exalt patriotism And condemn its consequences, A tragic muddle; and-Mr. Munro'g play would .have been .more._ tragic, if .it had more truthfully exhibited the muddle.

For the Test, his besetting fault as a dramatist is. that he will not compress. Already The Rumeter.has -beeii- shortened - and still it is far too long. He revels in repetition He abounds in needlessly copious speeches ; of deputations, . of diplomatists, Of Prime Minister ; above all, of n . Balkan war-maniac who,- not content with jawing-at immense length; thinks it- necessary to read over a roll-call. of Balkan, natileS• One sees Mr.- Galsworthy doing:it all so much more neatly and impartially ! But never mind. Mr. Munro is on the right side, In recent years I do not -remember- to have seen a play which ;mingles dramatic styles • so strangely..as this Paw_ whiellSir.Gerald du Maurier has produced, with his .customary

lavishness, at the St. James's.. . .

First Aet. Introduces Hunting Set.=Apparently - with fierce satirical intuition: As 1„ know _nothing :whatever . 01 these pink coats except what we have all lately learnt about them from Mr. Siegfried Sassoon, I can't call thti' satire crude. But I am surprised to hear that the_" county" swills cherry-brandy and whisky to the neglect of sumptuously inovided tea (with eggs), and bounces out unprintable -words with the utmost coarseness,. in face of a timid stranger who is the (for once) shabbily dressed Sir Gerald. He was run into, and then (in every sense) picked up, by the motoring daughter of the hunting house. Daughter (rather shrilly voiced by Miss Nora Swinburne) obviously has no more brains than the Hunting_ Set : has different tastes—that.. is all._ Prefers romance to whiSky. Finds it (second style here developing) by suddenly thrusting penniless violinist, as fiance, on the county. Father very naturally furious: Girl elopes. Father broken. (Late-Victorian novelette style.)

Second Act. Violinist now great. - Plays at great and

very lavish Peer's party. New dresses and " Supers ' glimpsed every time. door opens. Suddenly, very amusing comedy, scene of proposal to marry between two members of Hunting Set (Miss Cathleen Nesbitt and Mr. Nigel Bruce)-7--almost the Noel Coward style at its best. Violinist collapses 'para- lysed. Melodramatic style.

Last. Sordid-realistic style—not ill done either !

Chief caracter—wind howling outside seaside hotel, where violinist remains paralysed until once-fond wife, outworn by his irritability, smacks him repeatedly and brutally in the face. And that would seem positively the Zolaesque or Maupassant style if it weren't that the blows (miraculous-medical style) restore the violinist's arms to self-defensive and Stradivarius- scraping agility ; but not his wife to him • for she makes off, enamoured of the seaside doctor (idyllic style), while her husband (modern telephonic style) rings. up the hotel bureau with a telegram for hiS accompanist. What an odd . play ! But the Coward bits show promise. And that wind 'outside hotel rooms—how well One knows it ! - •

At -the Queen's Theatre, last Monday night, Mr. Ernest Milton produced an alleged comedy called Maim, Darling !

It is by a very able writer and journalist, Miss Naomi lloyde-Smith. I can only express my astonishment that so clever a woman should have written so futile a farce.