Wednesday, July 14, 2010

He Would Have Been Amazed

I confess, I had no idea that this had happened... but thanks to the newly opened up archive of British Pathe newsreel films I've come across this brilliant piece of high irony. Rolfe's book Hadrian the Seventh was adapted by Peter Luke into a stage play which ran at the Mermaid Theatre in London in the 1960s with Alec McGowan in the lead role. Luke played somewhat with Rolfe's book and, although the stage play too is the story of an Englishman who is plucked from obscurity to become Pope, in the play that character is called Frederick Rolfe.

The Pathe Newsreel is something which would have either given Frederick Rolfe a funny turn or tickled him senseless, it reports that there was a special performance of Hadrian VII in front of 300 bishops taking an afternoon off from the Lambeth Conference of 1968. How Rolfe would have reacted to the thought of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Apostolic Delegate and hundreds of bishops watching such a play one can only guess at but I think, perhaps, whatever the outward reaction, he might have been terribly pleased on the inside.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, that was certainly interesting to see--though the music was quite dreadful. I know this is just a preview: is the actual newsreel in color?
- Jim D.

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