Background To The Play
Du Maurier had begun writing the play in the summer of 1943 which, according to Margaret Forster’s biography, she frankly admitted was autobiographical, although also based on another real-life story.
“John Rathbone, MP for Bodmin, was reported missing in 1940. His wife was returned unopposed to fill his place when his death was confirmed. In 1942 she remarried and shortly afterwards it was rumoured that her first husband was, after all, alive and a prisoner. The rumour turned out to be untrue.” (Note 3, page 434)
Involved with the West End production and being at Wyndham’s (her father Sir Gerald’s old theatre) du Maurier found “was a disturbing experience.” Clive Brook as the soldier-husband was so sympathetic, while Nora Swinburne as the wife made her character unattractive, "and it seemed to her the whole balance of the play was wrecked.”
Reviewing for the Evening Standard on 13 January 1945 (four months before VE Day), under the headline 'It Might Have Been So Good', the critic (and MP) Beverley Baxter wrote: "When the curtain rose again we waited for the unfolding of a tragedy or the playing out of an ironic comedy. Unhappily, Miss Du Maurier had shot her bolt. Having created an admirable situation, she could do nothing to resolve it. So she decided to end the war, which was accomplished by the use of the radio and, one has to record, to the titters of some people in the audience." And he concluded: "What a pity that Miss Du Maurier abandoned the play for a message! There are so many messages these days and so few plays."
Read more about this topic: The Years Between (Daphne Du Maurier Play)
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