At Their Stylish Country Retreat, Freda And Robert Caplan Host A Dinner Party For Their Colleagues And Friends Young, Beautiful And Successful, They Have The World At Their Feet Then A Cigarette Box And An Ill Considered Remark Spark Off A Relentless Series Of Revelations And Other Dangerous Secrets Are Painfully Exposed Priestley Wrote This Play To Prove That A Novelist Could Write An Effective Play Using The Strict Economy Of The Stage It Was First Produced At The Lyric Theatre In May 1932, With Flora Robson In The Role Of Olwen Peel, Richard Bird As Robert Caplan And Marie Ney As Freda Caplan In His Biography Of Priestley, Vincent Brome Wrote Of Dangerous Corner Directed By Tyrone Guthrie, It Ran For Just Five Performances, Then The Backers Withdrew Their Support Priestley Took A Cold Hard Look At The Situation, Made Some Swift Calculations With His Agent A.D Peters, And Plunged In Daringly To Rescue It He Was By Now A Relatively Rich Man And He Drew On The Accumulatuion Of Royalties To Keep The Play Running At A Loss In The End His Audacity Paid Off The Destructive Notices In The Daily Press Were Followed By Favourable Reviews By Ivor Brown In The Observer And James Agate In The Sunday Times It Became One Of The Most Popular Plays Priestley Ever Wrote. Dangerous Corner is a great title But a play or novel with that title today, would be assumed by its audience to be a thriller This is decidedly not a thriller The title is metaphorical, although there is a crime and a magnificent twist at the end J.B Priestley spent just one week writing this, his first play, in early 1932, to prove that a man might produce long novels and yet be able to write effectively, using the strictest economy, for the stage The play was not initially very popular After three days he was told that it would be taken off, and in a rather defensive introduction to the plays, which J.B Priestley wrote much later in 1948, he makes it clear that the performances only continued on his own insistence The play then ran for six months, and had subsequent worldwide success, as he says, from the Arctic to the , and even now must appear in about dozen playhouses every night However, he clearly had mixed feeling about the play, remarking earlier in 1938, It is pretty thin stuff when all is said and done His introduction goes on to say, It has never been a favourite of mine, for it seems to me merely an ingenious box of tricks, which I constructed to prove for it was my first play that I could think and create like a dramatist, and not necessarily like a novelist, and also view spoiler to make use of the device of splitting time into two, thus showing what might have happened, an idea that has always fascinated me hide spoiler . Watched it yesterday at the local theater, which had great moments and very poor moments, but I was very intrigued with the idea Then watched the Soviet 1972 film of it, and it was a masterpiece though, there is a variant where they cut the gay out of there, I m not sure what the audience was supposed to think Anyway, polished it with reading the play and dear me, it still cuts deeply Everyone lies and everyone loves, and it doesn t make them good or bad people They are just people. From BBC Radio 4 Extra A happy gathering of friends begin to probe events which happened in the past and discover that the relationships they have with each other aren t what they seem truth is like skidding round a corner at sixty.Stars Martin Jarvis as Robert Caplan, Stephanie Turner as Olwen Peel, Heather Stoney as Freda Caplan and Helen Worth as Betty Whitehouse.Directed by Alfred Bradley. Opasnyy povorot 1972 7 characters are gathered at the home of Robert Caplan to have a relaxed and pleasurable weekend They are bonded by family or business ties As Freda Caplan Robert s wife offers Olwen Peel a close friend a cigarette, Olwen makes a throw away remark that she has seen the box before Freda, who is in possession of the box because she took it from her deceased brother in laws house the night he died, knows it is impossible that Olwen has seen the box, because Freda, in love with her Brother in law, had given it to him only hours before he died Freda becomes interested in how Olwen could have seen the box and what she was doing with Martin just before he died As each character is forced through exposure by someone who is guilty, but innocent of their section of the story, to reveal their secrets, the facade of the cheerful group is destroyed as are the lives of those in the room The play then ends with the exact same moment Freda offered Olwen the cigarette, only this time, Olwen s comment is drowned out, Freda misses it, and the night continues to mask the deadly secrets we now know each character hides.This is Priestly s point, that the facade is not only about what we are revealing that is what we wish were true about ourselves but also what we are concealing With a particular tilt of a cigarette box, a string of discussions and questions reveals not just affairs, thefts and counter affairs, but unrequited loves, homosexuality and drug abuse Priestley s intention is for us to see the precarious nature of middle class safety, and the way that each individual fits in to an overlaying narrative that is the very essence of the upper middle class That the narrative is kept in place by the very behavior that would also destroy it This narrative, or story of what a respectable upper class should be is a lie of course but because of the nature of each others hidden falls from grace, it is a secret lie, with each individual doing to uphold its image depending on how far they are from it in reality. This play is BRILLIANT From the first lines onward WOW A quick introduction J B Priestley was a popular, prolific British novelist and playwright who lived from 1894 to 1984 and whose most successful writing years seemed to be from 1930 to 1950 He also had a political career.To me, he seemed most comfortable at writing comedy, but his two best known plays, An Inspector Calls and Time and the Conways are dramas He also seemed better at creating male characters than female.This is another one of his five time plays plays that experiment with flexible time, mixing the past, present, and future and to me, it s another of his less successful ones It also may be his earliest in the mode, so you can partly excuse it by saying he was still working things out The script mostly turns on a gimmick, and the stereotyped characters yell a lot, without having any new or real reasons to make all that noise There s a bit of O Neill s influence here, too that people s inner thoughts don t represent their outer ones and Priestly does it faster, and maybe with a bit less ponderousness, but with no greater depth than O Neill The problem is that we all know that what we think isn t always what we say, so finding out that other people s minds work the same way is no big surprise, and we don t need a writer, actors, and a theater to make that discovery. J B Priestley s first play, Dangerous Corner, was written to demonstrate that he, then a very popular novelist, could also write for the theater There are some things which are very good in this play, mainly the plot which involves a sextet of friends and colleagues who have been hiding behind a facade of deception after the death of a friend Not so good things a melodramatic suicide in Act III, and a confusing time reversal at the end the play doesn t explore this theme, so one wonders why Priestley made the ending so confusing Otherwise, this play proves Priestley could write intriguing, thought provoking pieces for the theater He is, in my opinion, a playwright with rather range than his contemporary Terence Rattigan.
- 112 pages
- Dangerous Corner
- J.B. Priestley
- 06 January 2019 J.B. Priestley