Arcturus Theater CompanyProductions
A staged reading of Noël Coward's Post Mortem
Date & Location
February 17th, 2014
All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church
2300 Cathedral Ave
NW, Washington, DC 20008
Britain declared war on Germany in 1914 unprepared for the horrors of trench warfare. For a while, awareness of these conditions was kept from civilians, who continued to romanticize the glories of war and assume, as they had been told, that the conflict would be over soon.
Early on, poets such as Rupert Brooke produced patriotic verse that helped drive support for the war. Brooke died in 1915 before seeing much combat. Other war poets, such as Edward Thomas and Siegfried Sassoon, wrote more graphically about the horrors they witnessed, breaking ground for others to follow. The dead and wounded among UK forces alone amounted to almost three million by the war's end in 1918 and almost no family was unaffected by loss. It was felt that a generation of young men had been mown down.
In 1930, Noël Coward wrote the one-act play, Post-Mortem, about a soldier, John Cavan, who dies in World War I and comes back thirteen years later as a ghost. Cavan revisits his fiancée, family, and friends, including the poet Perry Lomas, whose anti-war book, Post-Mortem, is being criticized by the powers that be, including Cavan's own father, Sir James Cavan, who runs The Daily Mercury in London.
Noël Coward's Post-Mortem reminds us of the importance of speaking out for what is right, regardless of the prevailing opinions of the public and press, so dialogue may take place and truth may have a better chance at being heard. The message is relevant for all times.
Sir James Cavan
The Bishop of Ketchworth
Ian Blackwell Rogers
Sir Henry Merstham