This week 75 years ago, The Stage considered plays written during wartime.
As Britain and British theatre emerged from the Second World War 75 years ago, The Stage looked back on the plays that had been created during the period of conflict, asking: “What plays of lasting value emerged from the war years?”
Our writer continued: “Were any new dramatists of importance discovered or was there any substantial enhancement of the reputation of already established dramatists? Above all, did the war itself provide the theme of any play of real dramatic import?
“In broad terms the answers to these questions must be these: The London stage maintained a good average standard of artistic achievement under wholly abnormal conditions. The number of new plays of first-rate importance was not great.
“Among British dramatists, Terence Rattigan and James Bridie made more progress than any of their fellows. It is easier to write great plays about wars when they are recollected in tranquillity than under urgent stress of current events. Nevertheless Mr Rattigan’s own Flare Path provided a lively picture of wartime life in the RAF. Robert Sherwood’s There Shall Be No Night and Steinbeck’s The Moon Is Down vividly reflected life in the occupied countries of Europe, and the Russians dramatically, even melodramatically, showed the stresses to which the peoples of the Soviet Union were exposed by the German invasion. These examples are by no means exhaustive, but they make a reasonably impressive list.”
For more from The Stage Archive, visit thestage.co.uk/archive