(Role: An Officer)

The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, October 12th-26th 1959.

The Belgrade Theatre early enlisted in the conscientious search for a new theatrical genius. Now they have stubbed their toes on Trog, which Mr. James Forsyth wrote some years ago and which has been broadcast more than once but which has not hitherto reached the stage. Now, it seems rather late. The sirens of the last War seem as old-fashioned as they are unwelcome. 1943 is not sufficiently long ago to have acquired period-interest and is much too long ago to have retained topical appeal.

The play presents several inmates of a hospital for nervous cases of the officer class but the central character is a faceless monster with a head so heavy that he has only to remove a chin-support to break his neck. This unfortunate creature is found by a Canadian-officer patient in the basement of a bombed house and adopted by him. Having something outside his own mind to worry about cures the officer, but the attempt to bring the gentle monster into line with modern usage fails, although his brain is large and active and he absorbs knowledge readily. The point the author does not quite seem to make is that "knowledge is but sorrow's spy" and our modern world on top of what had always been the monster's burden was altogether too much. So dreadful is his appearance that he hardly appears. All the evening he is hidden away, save for short and shrouded transits. To have your main character off-stage throughout is too bizarre.

Mr. Robert Eddison's voice is rich but much that he has to say is infantile and his interlocutor has to occupy the stage and address himself or herself to a dirty curtain. This difficulty is encountered in one scene in Twelfth Night, when Malvolio is cast into prison, and it is the least satisfactory scene in the play. Mr. Eddison's voice brought the kind of feeling to the beast's utterances that a poetic view of the case required, but he need not have been there in person at all. A recording would have sufficed. Anybody could have crossed the stage covered up like a walking column of old slops.

It is a literary play. The characters speak in rather lengthy, carefully punctuated phrases and are verbose under stress, which cripples the naturalistic style of their acting.

Mr. Peter Palmer put the nervous edge required on the character of the Canadian captain in love with the nurse and devoted to Trog. Miss Cherry Morris was good as the brave little nurse in the Beauty and the Beast passage, but this part seemed heavy and belated Barrie work.

The author designed the sets and directed the production and presumably obtained the effects he required. Kindly applause was given to the company, who took three or four curtains.


Theatre World, November 1959.

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