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by Bernard Shaw

St Martin's Hall, West Acton
December 1932

Directed by Phillip Woolcombe

Programme Flier  
programme.PDF 1932_youncantell  flier01.jpg

Margot Brett, Dolly Browne, Agens Copnall, Philip Elliott, Alfred Emmet, Mabel Frere, Eileen Grigg, Kenneth McKenzie, Mia McKenzie, Ewart Shellshear, Cyril Thomas, Gwendolen Thomas, Phillip Woollcombe

Production Team:
John Ruck, Barbara Sharp, Phillip Woolcombe


YCU NEVER CAN TELL was one of Shaw's earlier comedies, and, unlike so many of this author's plays, was written for no didactic purpose. It deals with no particular problem, tears aside the veil from no particular hypocrisy, and was written for no particular reason save the request of Mr. Cyril Maude, who after the play had been in rehearsal, cancelled the first production at the last minute: And that, after Mr. Shaw had bought himself a new suit of clothes, a rare occurrence, on the strength of the expected royalties! It called down criticisms on the author's head for "writing down to the public," for writing a "commercial play."
Why, then, have we deemed it worth producing? Have we been hypnotised into believing that everything bearing the magic signature of "G.B.S." is above criticism? Not so—we are producing it because we like it, which is one very good reason. We are producing it because we think you will like it, which is another very good reason. And we are producing it because we think it is an admirable illustration of the possibility of a "commercial play" possessing a definite artistic value. It is witty; it is clever. It may not be a great play, but to say there is nothing to it is to ignore the light-hearted, but nevertheless, well-aimed Shavian thrusts at the stupid conventions of this convention-ridden world. If no "commercial play" fell below the standard of "You Never Can Tell," the commercial theatre to-day would be in a far healthier state than it is.

The play was written in 1896, but nevertheless, we feel it is as full of life to-day as ever it was, and therefore, we have departed from tradition by dressing it and setting it as a modern play rather than a period piece; toned down however, with a rather "old-fashioned" style of production. Whether we are right in so doing is for you to judge.