Sunday, April 5

Cold Comfort Farm By Stella Gibbons

Flora...reflected that religious maniacs derived considerable comfort from digging into their motives for their actions and discovering discreditable reasons which covered them with good, satisfying sinfulness in which they could wallow to their heart's content.

Flora's observation of the congregation:
It compared most favourably with audiences she had studied in London; and particularly with an audience seen once — but only once — at a Sunday afternoon meeting of the Cinema Society to which she had, somewhat unwillingly, accompanied a friend who was interested in the progress of the cinema as an art.

That audience had run to beards and magenta shirts and original ways of arranging its neckwear; and not content with the ravages produced in its over-excitable nervous system by the remorseless workings of its critical intelligence, it had sat through a film of Japanese life called 'Yes', made by a Norwegian film company in 1915 with Japanese actors, which lasted an hour and three-quarters and contained twelve close-ups of water-lilies lying perfectly still on a scummy pond and four suicides, all done extremely slowly.

All around her (Flora pensively recalled) people were muttering how lovely were its rhythmic patterns and what an exciting quality it had and how abstract was it formal decorative shaping.

Later, as Flora educates Elfine:
In the evening, she proposed that the three of them should visit the Pit Theatre, in Stench Street, Seven Dials, to see a new play by Brandt Slurb called 'Manallalive-O!', a Neo-Expressionist attempt to give dramatic form to the mental reactions of a man employed as a waiter in a restaurant who dreams that he is the double of another man who is employed as a steward on a liner, and who, on awakening and realizing that he is still a waiter employed in a restaurant and not a steward employed on a liner, goes mad and shoots his reflection in a mirror and dies. It had seventeen scenes and only one character. A pest-house, a laundry, a lavatory, a court of law, a room in a leper's settlement and the middle of Piccadilly Circus were included in the scenes.

'Why,' asked Julia, 'do you want to see a play like that?'

'I don't, but I think it would be so good for Elfine, so that she will know what to avoid when she is married.'

And finally, towards the end of the climactic scene where Aunt Ada Doom has been trying to force everyone to bend to her will:
Flora was desperately sleepy: she felt as though she were at one of Eugene O'Neill's plays; that kind that goes on for hours and hours and hours, until the R.S.P.C Audiences batters the doors of the theatre in and insists on a tea interval.

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