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Elliot Norton Reviews; Magistrate, The


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Elliot Norton Reviews
Magistrate, The
Program Number


Series Description

Boston theatre critic Elliot Norton interviews prominent actors, directors and producers on their craft. (Aired from October, 1958 to 1982. Winner of both Peabody and Tony Awards.) Series release date: 1958

Program Description

Elliot Norton interviews director Edward Hasting and stars Jerome Kilty and John Cullum about the Hartman Theater’s production of Arthur Wing Pinero's 1885 farce, The Magistrate, at Boston University. Mr. Posket (Kilty), a London magistrate, who does not know that his wife, Agatha Farringdon, has been lying about her and her son, Cis’, ages. She goes with her sister, Charlotte, to speak with an old friend Colonel Lukyn (Cullum) and his friend, Captain Horace Vale, at the Hôtel des Princes before the Colonel comes to dine with the Poskets and inadvertently reveal her secret. Posket and Cis go out for a night to the same hotel and they all hide in the same dark room when the police come to search the hotel, unaware of each other’s presence. Posket and Cis flee the scene and the next day Posket has to try the case in court, with Lukyn and his wife on trial. After the trial, Farringdon comes clean and tells her husband the truth.

Ed Sharon, the artistic director of the Hartman Theater chose this play, which is not often performed and almost forgotten. Cullum talks about how this is a break from his usual roles and he has not played a “stiff upper-lipped guy” since high school. The guests discuss the difficulties of performing comedy, especially in the case of farce, where the audience is expected to anticipate the comedy ahead of the characters. Hastings points out how important it is to test out the comedy in front of an audience. The guests and Norton talk about the importance of the actors taking themselves seriously, otherwise the comedy is lost.

Hastings talks about his directing style, and when Norton comments that the movements of the actors seem natural, Hastings says, “The invention is there and the winnowing is mine and that’s why I think it looks like it’s all coming out of their beliefs.” He lets the actors try what they think will work and then he edits. They also discuss the difficulty of cutting the intricate script, while still making sure it makes sense.

Taped 2/12/1982.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Talk Show
Performing Arts
Chicago: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Magistrate, The,” 02/12/1982, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 25, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_9685A3366DA4458DAD3D34D757CB5353.
MLA: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Magistrate, The.” 02/12/1982. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 25, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_9685A3366DA4458DAD3D34D757CB5353>.
APA: Elliot Norton Reviews; Magistrate, The. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_9685A3366DA4458DAD3D34D757CB5353
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