Date of publication
1930-31: Ambassador’s Theatre, London 1932: Palace Pier, Brighton; Rusholme Theatre, Manchester; Liverpool Playhouse 4 August 1932: Radio broadcast, London Regional channel at 9pm (Daily Mail Thursday, August 04, 1932; pg. 14) 4 October 1932: Repertory Players, Phoenix Theatre, London July 1933: His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth, Australia 26 and 28 February 1934: Rudolf Steiner Hall, London, at 9 p.m., in aid of the Society of Our Lady of Good Counsel. April-May 1935: Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York. May 1937: Sheffield Repertory Company 1952: revival, Arts Theatre London, with Thomas Heathcote
Gilbert Wakefield in Saturday Review, 20 December 1930, p822 The West Australian, 24 July 1933, p10 Brooks Atkinson in New York Times 1 May 1935, p25
French’s Acting Editions
Act 1. Caroline and Freddie are ten years married, Caroline late 30s, Freddie late 40s. They have two children who do not appear in the play. They live in a small country house in South Devon. Caroline is clearly short of attention from Freddie, and attempts to engage him in conversation, but her remains glued to the newspaper. Eventually he tells her that there may be trouble at the family business, a paper mill; the men are unsettled by the new Welsh manager and a strike is possible. This excites Caroline's imagination and she wonders if she will be able to help in the event of trouble. Jill, Caroline's sister and her admirer Owen come in. They are in their late twenties and demonstrably more modern than Caroline. They attempt to encourage Caroline to make more of her life: to go abroad, travel to London; but she presents Freddie and family obligations as obstacles. Caroline leaves them as she must deal with the fish delivery. Jill and Owen discuss their possible marriage. Jill is dispassionate and modern; her fear of a life like Caroline's puts her off marriage, but she refuses to be Owen's mistress. She suggests that Owen fall in love "a little bit" with Caroline, to take her sister's mind off things. Freddie and Caroline discuss Jill and Owen's possible marriage; Caroline becomes emotional but Freddie cannot give her any caring reassurance. Alone, Caroline imagines herself talking to the paper mill workers, and quelling the strike. She is surprised in this by Owen, and deeply embarrassed. As dinner is announced, a phone call suggests that the strike is imminent. Caroline and Jill are excite and Caroline suggests to Freddie that she might say something to the men. He suggests that she go and lie down instead. Jill and Freddie leave in Jill's car to see what is happening at the mill. Act II Scene 1: left alone, Owen and Caroline have dinner. They discuss Caroline's romantic life and decide to pretend that they are young and about to fall in love. They flirt, and Owen encourages her to be the "real Caroline". They kiss, and Caroline is upset and dismayed. Owen hopes it will give her the strength to rebel. Jill and Freddie return; the strike is averted. Owen tells Jill what has happened; she understands but is also angry. Freddie enters, orders champagne to celebrate his success at the mill, and talks volubly of what has happened. Nobody really listens. Caroline, who is starting a cold, interrupts him by sneezing. Scene II: Caroline is getting ready for bed and begins to tell Freddie that her life is not sufficient for her. She gets his attention by suggesting she might fall in love, although he counters this with the lack of available suitors in the area. She asks whether Freddie would give her a divorce; he suggests that such things are for the younger generation. Remembering her scene with Owen, she reassures Freddie that anything like that would just be pretence - but this precipitates a collapse, and Caroline sobs that she cannot go on - even counting her blessings makes this worse. Act III: Some days later. Caroline has been ill and is in bed. Jill talks to Freddie about Caroline's unhappiness and tries to get him to admit his emotions and change in small ways to please her, perhaps by picking her flowers. Freddie admits that he does care for Caroline but is uncomfortable about admitting it. Caroline comes downstairs for the first time since her illness and she and Jill discuss marriage and women's lives. They conclude that women are beginning to know that romance cannot be all of everyday life, and that life must be accepted as it really is. They discuss Owen, and Jill's fears about marriage. Caroline asserts that their marriage will be founded on facts and not daydreams - and that they are very different from her and Freddie. Jill and Owen discuss their marriage again, and agree that Owen has enough imagination, and that Jill is rational enough, for their marriage to be a success. Owen says goodbye to Caroline, who confirms that she does not have the courage to rebel - but that Jill has helped her to try to reconcile her life's realities. Owen and Jill leave, and Freddy suggests, to Caroline's astonishment, that they take a holiday abroad in the Spring - but he suggests the Eiffel Tower by moonlight, rather than the Alhambra Jill and Caroline have referred to so often.