Dramas set in the world of public schools are certainly flavour of the month at the moment with Lord Dismiss Us doing great business at the Above the Stag Theatre. Roger Gellert’s stunning foray into male human relationships, Quaint Honour is a theatrical gem that I’m pleased to say is getting a timely revival. First performed in 1958, this is a smart, thought-provoking piece where the use of elegant and eloquent speech is performed by a group of actors who are so ideally cast. Gellert’s play is about manners, how things should be done and are expected to be done in a hierarchy that is firmly established by pecking order. He examines where sexual attraction between two men should be stifled but a close bonded friendship valued. Sex is not sinful, it’s a fact of life, Christian love is to be cherished but not become profane. This is also a thriller.
The cast lead by Simon Butteriss as Hallowes, the master in charge of his pupils’ moral values and education in matters of the flesh is superb creating a pace and rhythm to the play that is immediately adopted by his fellow actors. Jack Archer as Hamilton, Oliver Gully as Park, Jacques Miche as Turner and a magnificent Harley Viveash as Tully whose skill as an actor in this role is extraordinary showing a true range of emotion that is spell-binding and is performed with such confidence and competence I sincerely hope other casting directors get to see his wonderful work in this piece.
The play has exciting moments where the twists and turns do come as a pleasant and well-crafted shock and the inner turmoil felt by the characters, conflict of interest, prejudice and consequences of seduction are beautifully portrayed by actors at the top of their game. This is a drama that is both impressive and powerful and I do strongly urge a visit to the Finborough. An enthralling look at homosexuality in 1950’s England that has actually stood the test of time very well.