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When The Lady's not for Burning had its premiere in Boston there was no dissenting voice among the critic. After the opening in New York in November, 1950, the enthusiasm was even louder; the usually cautious appraisers united in loud hosannas of praise. In the New York Journal-American George Jean Nathan wrote, " In a theater largely consecrated to serving the eye Christopher Fry stands out as a playwright who serves that badly neglected organ, the ear ... He delights in the beautiful sounds of words and the smooth roll of sentences and the fireworks their flame can set alight.''
The play is especially rich in an idiom that is beyond ordinary '' realistic speech'' and a great deal more vivid than contrived realism. Fry's drama effects a combination of grace and gusto which is peculiar but always appropriate. Apart from the unpredictable bursts of beauty, the play is compounded of intellectual wit and earthy humor. Laughter is the surest touch of genius in creation.'' Fry assures us through the mouth of Thoma Mendip. And this play, brimming with satirical thrusts at judicial folderol and radiant with a shimmering sensibility, projects that genius.
The play concerns a young man and a young lady. The former, having seen enough of life, is disillusioned and wants to leave it. The latter, filled with the joy of living, has been accused of witchcraft and is to die. They meet in the official quarter of a small town where their fates are to be decided. But how they resolve their difficulties and what the outcome is will be yours to enjoy. It is with pride that we of the Masque raise the curtain on The Lady's not for Burning.
Theatre and Performance Studies
La Salle College, "The Lady's Not For Burning" (1955). The Masque Programs. 97.
About the Masque
The Masque of La Salle College celebrates the Twentieth Anniversary of its founding this season of 1954-55, with its most ambitious program. Back in 1934 its charter members presented Sun Up, with all do fan fare, to two packed houses. Its first musical offering was The Sweetest Girl in Town in 1936, which if it did nothing else, underlined our need for a new piano. The following spring was greeted with the Masque's own interpretation of the Gay Ninety Melodrama, Gold in the Hills. This was followed in 1938 by another from the 1890 's, Silas, The Chore Boy. Having had its fill of 'antiquated drama ' the Masque turned to more current Broadway Productions for its material. During the two decades of its intermittent history it is especially proud of the first off-Broadway production of You Can't Take It With You, Kauffman and Hart's musical, in 1939, and of Maxwell Anderson's musical Knickerbocker Holiday a year later. The following year witnessed a very successful presentation of Sigmund Romberg 's favorite, Maytime. Our Town, State of the Union, and Romeo and Juliet highlighted their respective seasons. War caused interruptions at La Salle, as elsewhere, and during the interim the La Salle College Theater filled the void in dramatic activity. During the post-war years the footlights were turned up for fine performances of such plays as Macbeth, Tiding Brought to Mary, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Life of Saint John Baptist De La Salle, and Detective Story. Last year the Masque offered a fine presentation of the James Thurber-Elliott Nugent comedy, The Male Animal. The spring of 1954 witnessed the Masque 's finest production to date, the first off-Broadway showing of Rogers and Hart's Babes-in Arms. On this anniversary the Masque affectionately dedicates the present production to Dr. Joseph Sprissler, Comptroller of La Salle College, and founder of the Masque.