High Tide in the London Theatre: Some Notes on the 1978-79 Season


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

The infinite riches of the English theatre make rather a mockery of this kind of note-taking, and I write in so healthy a context of good plays and honest productions that it is hard not to sound a little intoxicated.

Hardly a period of major drama has passed unnoticed on the London stage during the 1978-79 season. There have been delightful glimpses of the Restoration in the neglected Etherege of She Would If She Could and the Congreve of The Double Dealer-the latter revealing a broad and lubricious comic talent in the divine Dorothy Tutin as a purring Lady Plyant. The "realism" of Ibsen and Shaw was revisited with a rare Lady from the Sea, which sported a passionately emoting Vanessa Redgrave entirely surrounded by fjord water in the Round House, and a late Shavian Millionairess and an early Shavian Philanderer (it was his second play) in which the new sexual Ibsenism becomes an egotistic joke for Dinsdale Landen as Leonard Charteris doing his worst in the sardonic world of the new woman. The period was also represented by a powerful revival of Galsworthy's Strife, complete with on-stage blast-furnace: the whole show was made strangely symbolic when a strike of scene-shifters left the players without chairs in the limbo of the large stage of the new Olivier Theatre.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.