Trying to outlaw lies
IN this week’s Memory Lane, we take a look back at an Edwardian musical performed by Waterside Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society in November 1939.
Our regular nostalgia contributor Peter Fisher has sent us a selection of pictures from the three-act show, The Arcadians, staged at the Empire Theatre, Bacup.
Proceeds from the show went to Waterside Methodist Church funds and the Bacup Central Aid Fund
The play is about a group of ‘Arcadians’, who live in Arcadia - a fictional land of peace and serenity and who are on a mission to transform wicked London into a simple, true land.
It begins with Sombra and Chelsea, two Arcadian children, talking about the outside world and the ‘savages’ who live in it, in cages of brick and stone, telling dreaded lies.
The Arcadians ask Father Time to bring a Londoner to them, so they can teach him their pure way of life.
Reluctantly agreeing, he then causes amateur aviator James Smith, an aging philanderer with a love of aeroplanes, to crash land in Arcadia.
The Arcadians and James swap stories and he introduces them to concepts from the outside world, including ugliness, jealousy - and even lying.
The Arcadians put James in the Well of Truth, transforming him into a young man wearing the scant costume of Arcadia.
He is christened ‘Simplicitas’ and is told he will remain young until he tells a lie, then sent off with Sombra and Chelsea to wicked London, to banish lies forever.
The trio begin at the Askwood races, but instead of improving the Londoners’ way of life, the Arcadians take up some of their wicked ways, including betting on the races.
Simplicitas meets his wife, Mrs Smith, who, not recognising him as her husband, falls in love with the young man. He, in turn, agrees to help her open an Arcadian restaurant in London.
Next a jockey called Jack Meadows is thrown by his horse - and the replacement rider, Peter Doody, is injured.
Simplicitas takes their place, using his Arcadian gift of speech with animals, making the unruly horse as gentle as a lamb and he rides to victory in the race.
Soon Simplicitas and Mrs Smith have launched their Arcadian restaurant, which becomes all the rage in London, with a menu based on the simple life. However, Simplicitas is not sharing the Arcadian way, as was intended, and instead is having the time of his life.
When his wife becomes suspicious about an all-night absence, Simplicitas slips up and tells a lie.
He falls into the ornamental well in the restaurant and is transformed back into his former self, with his bald head and whiskery facial hair.
Sombra and Chelsea realise that their mission to banish lies in London has failed and return to Arcadia.
However they leave two happy couples behind - James and his wife - and also the jockey Jack, who has falled for a young Irish woman, Eileen Cavanagh.
This week we are showcasing an array of shots of the show, including an image of the front cover of the souvenir programme (Picture 1).
Meanwhile Pictures 2 and 3 show the Arcadians in their peaceful land.
Picture 4 shows Peter Doody and Mrs Smith, while Picture 5 is a shot of lovebirds Eileen Cavagh and Jack Meadows.
Or final image of the week (Picture 6) shows the whole cast, with Simplicitas and Mrs Smith centre.
Did you see The Arcadians in 1939, or were you a member of the society? If these pictures bring back memories, please get in touch.
Thanks to all our nostalgia contributors.
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