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Documenting the quest to track down everything written by (and written about) the poet, translator, critic, and radio dramatist, Henry Reed.

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I Capture the Castle: A girl and her family struggle to make ends meet in an old English castle.
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«  Pictures of Betti  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

19.11.2017


Pictures of Betti

Really excellent finds this week. The first was only a short quote by Elizabeth Bowen, which mentions Reed. Sorting out the context for that will require a little more time to nail down all the corners.

But the other was in volume 7 of Theatre World Annual (London), which covers June 1st, 1955 to the 31st of May, 1956. It includes reviews and pictorials for two of Henry Reed's adaptations of Ugo Betti's plays, which were performed in London in the fall of 1955. The first of these was The Queen and the Rebels, which opened at the Haymarket Theatre on October 26th. Theatre World editor, Frances Stephens, called Reed's translation "taut and effective." Pictures by Angus McBean (apologies for my poor scans):

Queen and the Rebels

A moment from the opening scene of the play, which takes place in a large hall in the main public building in a hillside village near the frontier. Raim (Duncan Lamont) is interrogating a number of travellers, who have been forcibly held up at this remote spot by the revolutionary forces; among them Argia (Irene Worth, center. Later, left alone, Argia, a prostitute from the neighboring town, reveals that she had made the journey specially to find Raim. [Page 73.]


Queen and the Rebels

Raim indulges in some indiscreet talk with one of the travellers, only to discover later that he is Commissar Amos of the Revolutionary Party (Leo McKern, right)


Queen and the Rebels

The Queen, whose only desire is to get away, believes pathetically that Argia will help her. At the last moment Argia relents and helps her to escape the trap laid by Raim. The soldiers wrongly think that it was Argia who was trying to escape and report to Amos, who already has his suspicion about this unknown woman. He begins to question her. [Page 74.]


Queen and the Rebels

It is now obvious that the revolutionaries are convinced that Argia is the Queen and for the moment she revels in deceiving Biante, the General of the revolutionary forces, who has come back severely wounded from the fighting in the hills (Alan Tilvern).


Queen and the Rebels

The Queen has already been captured and having, through Argia's influence, gained a little courage, she is at last brave enough to take her own life. But Argia has now lost the one witness who might have saved her. She is sentenced to death, and later refuses to sign a trumped-up confession. [Page 75.]

In contrast to the intensity of Betti's Queen is Reed's "charming" translation of Summertime, which premiered at the Apollo Theatre, London, on November 9th, 1955. Pictures by Armstrong Jones:

Queen and the Rebels

Francesca (Geraldine McEwan, left) is determined to marry Alberto (Dirk Bogarde, right). She entices him, reluctantly, to a picnic in the mountains, where he confesses he has already innocently compromised himself with a girl in the city. (Centre: Michael Gwynn as the Doctor.) [Page 79.]


Queen and the Rebels

Aunt Ofelia (Esma Cannon), who is Alberto's aunt, and Aunt Cleofe (Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies) aunt to Francesca. These two have been watching the proceedings from a distance. Aunt Cleofe is anxious for Francesca to marry the young doctor, but in the end—as one might have expected—the girl forgives Alberto and the unfortunate young medico is sent packing.


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What is Henry Reed's first name?

1513. Hodge, Alan. "Thunder on the Right." Tribune (London), 14 June 1946, 15.
Hodge finds 'dry charm as well as quiet wit' in "Judging Distances," but overall feels Reed is 'diffuse and not sufficiently accomplished.'



1st lesson:

Reed, Henry (1914-1986). Born: Birmingham, England, 22 February 1914; died: London, 8 December 1986.

Education: MA, University of Birmingham, 1936. Served: RAOC, 1941-42; Foreign Office, Bletchley Park, 1942-1945. Freelance writer: BBC Features Department, 1945-1980.

Author of: A Map of Verona: Poems (1946)
The Novel Since 1939 (1946)
Moby Dick: A Play for Radio from Herman Melville's Novel (1947)
Lessons of the War (1970)
Hilda Tablet and Others: Four Pieces for Radio (1971)
The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio (1971)
Collected Poems (1991, 2007)
The Auction Sale (2006)


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