Thursday, May 03, 2007

It has been over a month since I last posted. A very busy month, in fact. I just directed my first play with a theater company in Nashville, The Lakewood Theatre in the Old Hickory suburb. What does this have to do with pulps? Nothing, really, but I got to direct one of my favorite plays, Outward Bound, by Sutton Vane.
Outward Bound deals with seven passengers on a small liner who are all dealing with confusion over where they are going and why. All, but two, that is; Ann and Henry, a young couple, know their destination.
It transpires the passengers are all dead and on their way to judgment. They are Ann & Henry; Lingley, a stone-hearted businessman; Mrs. Cliveden-Banks, a snobby dowager; Tom Prior, a drunk; The Reverend Duke, a young cleric; and Mrs. Midgett, a charwoman. The only other person on board is Scrubby, the ship's steward.
Like many of his generation, English actor and playwright Sutton Vane, suffered from shell-shock during the First World War and later wrote Outward Bound to deal with the issues of life after death and whether life has any meaning. This was a common theme of the time, Spiritualism was nearing its zenith, and many either turned to religion for solace or turned from religion as a result of the horrors of war.
Vane first produced the play himself, being unable to find a producer willing to back the show. It was an unexpected success and moved to London's West End and then to Broadway in America. It was filmed twice, first as Outward Bound in 1930 and as Between Two Worlds in 1943. The latter film expanded the story and the cast and was a little too glitzy for my tastes. Except it had a superb score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. It had several revivals over the years, including a production featuring a young Vincent Price. It was performed at least twice on television in the fifties and was, for many years, a staple of college and community theater. Now, not too many know about it, which is a pity.
In 1929 Vane adapted his play as a novel, which I am currently reading, thanks to It is interesting the approach he has chosen to take with the story in this form and he has provided some fascinating back stories for the characters. As a novelist, Vane had a somewhat pulpy style which makes it a suitable topic here. It was obvious that Vane felt very strongly for his characters, as even the worst of the lot deserves some sympathy.
I hope you, dear readers, get the opportunity to either see a production of the play, or to read the script or novel. It's a marvelous piece of work.
Next time, back to the pulps.


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