(Patricia) Ann Jellicoe Irving Wardle - Essay

Irving Wardle

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Until last night this was just a funny story: a classic comedy of misunderstanding between an avant-garde artist and a blinkered institution—as if someone had commissioned Baudelaire to write a book on gardening. [But the new production of The Rising Generation] has now shown that Miss Jellicoe, at least, knew exactly what she was doing. The events are monstrous—but so are those that children imagine for themselves: and the way they develop amounts to a projection of childhood free-association in broad-scale theatrical terms.

The production (cut down to a mere cast of 150) opened with an assault on the audience by an army of cleaning ladies who then formed up on stage raised Nuremburg cheers for their leader—the nightmarish "Mother", carried in on a litter, voluptuously cajoling them into man-hatred with a skeleton swinging over her head.

The atmosphere takes one back to the heyday of C.N.D., but it is still heady. The writing is boldly mapped out into sections of plot development and crowd rhythm. Its simple, magnified technique would clearly have a far greater impact in the setting for which it was first intended, but even at close quarters it is great fun.

Irving Wardle, "Ghoul the Guides Missed," in The Times, London (© Times Newspapers Limited 1967), July 24, 1967, p. 6.∗