Specimens of English Dramatic Criticism, XVII-XX Centuries

By A. C. Ward | Go to book overview

'MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL'

THE Festival of Music and Drama, organized by the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral, began on Saturday, and will continue throughout the present week. A new play, Murder in the Cathedral, by Mr. T. S. Eliot, was performed during the evening in a setting designed by Mr. Laurence Irving to accord with the existing decoration of the Chapter House. The action, which is accompanied throughout by the tragic comments of a chorus of Canterbury women, describes Becket's return to England, his resistance to the persuasions of four Tempters, who represent the innermost working of his own mind, his death, and his murderers' attempt to justify their action. The play is an exposition, in Becket, of the nature of saintliness, and contains an urgent suggestion that the problems by which he was beset are present to-day. In form it is something between a Morality and a chronicle play, the use of introspective symbols being subtly interwoven with a simplified historical narrative.

Recognizing the necessities of the dramatic medium, Mr. Eliot has put away from him, except on rare occasions, the use of private symbols and has written in a way that may be generally understood. There are certain passages of which, though the meaning is plain, the aesthetic purpose remains obscure--namely, those in which Mr. Eliot employs a limping jingle that reminds the hearer of nothing so much as the 'book' of a pantomime. In some instances the intention appears to be satirical, the speaker (for example, one of the Tempters) being

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Specimens of English Dramatic Criticism, XVII-XX Centuries
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • London Theatres in the 1660s 21
  • Betterton's Benefit 44
  • Thomas Betterton 46
  • Garrick's First Performance in London 60
  • Mr. Partridge Sees Garrick 63
  • 'the Beggar's Opera': 18th Century 69
  • Mrs. Siddons 84
  • Others--And Mrs. Siddons 89
  • 'the Beggar's Opera': 19th Century 93
  • Kean as Richard the Third 96
  • On Actors and Acting 101
  • On the Artificial Comedy of The Last Century 112
  • Phelps at Sadler's Wells 123
  • At the Pantomime 130
  • 'Caste' 132
  • On Natural Acting 142
  • Ellen Terry 154
  • Ellen Terry 159
  • Irving in Shakespeare 162
  • 'Ghosts' 182
  • 'Arms and the Man' 190
  • 'trilby' 198
  • Donkey Races 203
  • Forbes Robertson's Hamlet 208
  • 'trelawny of the "Wells"' 218
  • F. R. Benson's Richard II 222
  • Dan Leno 231
  • The Wild Duck' 237
  • 'the Playboy of the Western World'1 248
  • P. D. Kenny 254
  • Granville Barker's Production Of 'twelfth Night' 260
  • 'the Pretenders' 264
  • 'A Bill of Divorcement' 282
  • The Search for the Masterpiece 290
  • 'Peer Gynt' at the Old Vic 294
  • Marie Lloyd 297
  • 'the Way of the World' 302
  • 'Hamlet' in Modern Dress 307
  • A Creator 312
  • Biblical 'tobias and the Angel' 316
  • 'twelfth Night' at the Old Vic 321
  • 'Murder in the Cathedral' 326
  • 'As You like It' at the Old Vic 329
  • Editor's Note 331
  • Descriptive Index 333
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