Doyle Story Compressed
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Doyle Story Compressed is an article published in The Times on 8 april 1965.
Review of the play Rodney Stone premiered on 6 april 1965 at The Sheffield Playhouse.
Doyle Story Compressed
Sheffield Playhouse: Rodney Stone
From Our Special Correspondent
SHEFFIELD, APRIL 6
"We put our grizzled heads together, we older ones, and we talk of the great days that we have known ; but we find that when it is with our children that we talk it is a hard matter to make them understand. We and our fathers before us lived much the same life, but they with their railway trains and their steam boats belong to a different age."
So reflects Rodney Stone opening as narrator, supposedly in 1851, the Regency romance that bears his name but has Conan Doyle as its author.
Now that still another age has come, Sheffield Playhouse retells the tale for its benefit in a workmanlike stage adaptation by Alan Cullen, with Colin George directing a lively production. The mood of it is infectious, making not only railway trains and steam ships but also space ships and satellites seem humdrum by contrast, if they happen to cross one's mind.
Doyle crowded his canvas in a resolve to get everything into the picture that he could-the bucks and the bruisers, the fancy, the stage, the Fleet. not to mention its commanders, including Collingwood (properly equipped with acorns), Troubridge, and Nelson, with Lady Hamilton in tremulous and sarcastically deprecated attendance. Prinny and Brummel too, are thrust into the foreground.
The wide screen might perhaps present a more realistic spectacle of it all than the stage can. Yet some virtue is made of limitations. The race of phaeton and a barouche from Brighton to London is amusingly, if not excitingly, presented.
Mr. Cullen has had to select and compress. He has shown considerable ingenuity in doing so, and he has strengthened both dramatic effect and his story line by giving Stone things to say which in the novel he merely thinks.
Action is too brisk, with incident over-taken by incident, for the players to give detailed characterization; their strokes have to be strong and brief. Perhaps in later performances the revolve and other stage equipment will stand up to the pace as well as the cast are doing. The first night audience was patient and sympathetic when mechanics once jammed.
Brummel and his fictitious predecessor Tregellis are engagingly played by Mr. Christopher Gilmore and Mr. David Neal. Miss Elisabeth Paget is a splendidly actressy actress.