The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #171888   Message #4158396
Posted By: cnd
22-Nov-22 - 01:47 PM
Thread Name: Origins: The Law In Its Wisdom
Subject: RE: Origins: The Law In Its Wisdom
A play came out right around that time called "Hang Down Your Head and Die" by David Wright -- may be worth checking out. Note the following review of it, from The Guardian, Feb. 13 1964:
AFTER Moliere and Shakespeare, the reconstructed Oxford Playhouse presents an anti-capital punishment entertainment, devised by David Wright and other members of the Experimental Theatre Club. The production takes the form of a circus, whose artists trace the forces shaping capital punishment and then act out the training of a hangman and the last days of the condemned man.

Their materials are sketches, quotations, traditional and modern folk-songs [emphasis added], street interviews and excerpts from the report of the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment. The Lord Chamberlain has helped publicity considerably, and in at least one instance, the cutting of the mime accompanying the account of the Rosenbergs' execution, has actually strengthened the show's impact. For the argument is strongest when it is presented simply and unemotionally, as in the brief account of the Bentley and Craig case, and the two 57-second periods of silence in the theatre which represent the time taken to electrocute the Rosenbergs.

The present weakness of the show is its failure to decide whether it is tract or entertainment. The two aims are not yet perfectly integrated and tend to hamper one another. Yet the show avoids being either sick or monotonous and is often both funny and moving, a considerable tribute to the skill of David Wright and his director, Graham Murray, and the conviction of the large cast, beautifully led by Terry Jones as the condemned man, and David Wood as the chief clown.

Comparison with "Oh What a Lovely War" is inevitable. but the show has many sources, including Brecht, Charles Parker, and the television documentary. In spite of some patchy numbers and muddled intentions, as an indictment of capital punishment, and a genuine attempt to use every facet of the theatre, from Marceau and Mr. Punch to rock numbers and recorded interviews, it is a fascinating and important evening's theatre. It is on for the next ten days and well worth a journey.
(some discussion on that play, if it is indeed the same one, here).