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Norman Allan
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Chapter Eleven: The Secret of the World.

At Ted's memorial in the little synagogue in Toronto's Beaches, July the 4th, 1995, Ted Kotcheff (1) stood on the podium. "I wasn't expecting to speak today, but it's very easy to speak about Ted. I think Ted... we always used to refer to each other as The-Other-Ted - "Hello Ted, this is The-Other-Ted." Ted provided more funny anecdotes then any other person I ever met." Here The-Other-Ted related several anecdotes from their decades together trying to put together a deal for the "Bethune" film. Following this, he commented, "We haven't mentioned... no one has mentioned Ted's artistic successes. I think the two major artistic successes were, of course, "Lies My Father Told Me"... I just flew back yesterday from a Czech Film Festival. I told them I had to fly back for the funeral of a friend, and they said, all these film makers gathered there, "Oh, we know Ted Allan," and they'd name "Lies My Father Told Me", because, of course, of Jon Kadar, the Czech director. Ted was nominated for an Oscar for the script."
     "The other big success, though more arcane, was "Secret of the World", a marvelous play. It premiered in Stratford on Bow in London's East End, and Harold Hobson compared it to King Lear. Ah, but the opening night I was standing beside him, and some fool," - Ted Kotcheff shrugged his shoulders and began to laugh - "some fool walked up to Ted after the end of Act Two and said, "It's a very interesting play, Ted, interesting play, but ah..." Ted said, "No buts! No buts! No buts tonight! Tonight I'm Shakespeare! Tomorrow buts, not tonight! No buts!"
     Laughter greeted Kotcheff's story. "He was something else, that Ted," said Ted. "And then when Princess Margaret came up to him to congratulate him on the play, he replied, "Well if you liked it, tell your sister." "

With all his plays, and films, Ted was always at all the rehearsals looking over the directors shoulder, rewriting, polishing, refining, until opening night... Ted's old friend, Jack Berry, directed "The Secret of the World" in London and ended up playing the lead. I telephoned Jack this spring, 1997, to ask him about the play. "I first got into Secret of the World with Ted because I had done the Sartre play in London," John told me. "And then he gave me Secret which Oscar Lewenstein would produce. Ted had written eleven versions. I took all eleven versions and I made a twelfth. Ted made a thirteenth, and we got together and together we made a fourteenth." (2)
     I asked John what it was like having Ted there every day at rehearsals. "I must say that I directed the play and I found it was no problem at all for me. It was a great help to me. We had all those discussions. He was never satisfied with the set, and he was never satisfied with the end of the play. I think he wrote forty five versions."

1962.London's Theatre Royal in Stratford East. Late comers shuffle to their seats. The house lights dim. It is the opening night of...

                                        THE SECRET OF THE WORLD

                                                       a play by
                                                       Ted Allan

               The house of Samuel Spector is on many levels,
               but two are all we see.

               There are three areas downstage. One represent a kitchen;
               one a living room; and one "Fletcher's Field" a playground at
               the foot of Mt. Royal, Montreal's mountain in the centre of the city.
               Here there is a park bench.

               One door downstage leads to SAM and MARIAN's bedroom, O.S.

               An arch or doorway leads to a hallway, partly seen.
                which in turn leads to the O.S. bedroom of the daughter, SUSAN.

               A staircase leads to the second floor where the bedrooms of the son,
                ALEX, THE OLD MAN and brother-in-law BENNY are located.

               AS THE CURTAIN RISES, MARIAN is baking in her kitchen.

               Her father-in-law, the OLD MAN, comes out of a door on the
               second level, moves down a step or two, and sits.

What city is this?

MARIAN (she's told him a thousand times)

The one with the women?

The one with the mountain.

Did I eat yet?

Are you hungry?

If I didn't eat, I should eat.

Please find somebody else to pester today. I cleaned the house spotless so try not to dirty up your room today. It's bad enough Susan keeps her room like a pigsty.

I'll be dead soon and my room will be spotless.

You'll outlive all of us.

What city did you say this was?

This time guess.

The one with the mountain.

Give this man a cookie!

               As they've been talking, BENNY, Marian's younger brother
               has been approaching the house, passing the park bench.
               BENNY is a sharp dresser.
               He enters and passes them without saying a word,
               going up the stairs to his room.
               They pay as little attention to him as he does to them.
               He will come and go like this often throughout the play.

My brother, Sam, should leave this city. The future will not take place here.

BENNY (appears holding a newspaper. Benny speaks to Old Man)
Did you read it?

What's Sam said about it?

What are you asking him for? Sam'll be home soon, he'll tell you. Are you eating here tonight or not?

Would you please tell my sister I made a promise not to talk to her for a week. I've still got one day to go.
               (BENNY returns to his room)

I thought it was up today. I said his daughter Bobo was backward and should see a doctor. He got mad. That wife of his doesn't take care of the kids. You know why he lives here? Every time he finds her with another man he moves in here. He's found her with four different men so figure out how many he didn't find her with.

He lives here for the same reason you all live here.

He should take his two children away from that slut and bring them here and give me the money he gives her and I'd take care of them.

Where did you get your diploma for bringing up kids?

I brought up two, didn't I?

To be in the presence of a living God, that's why he lives here. Each man needs his own Jesus. It's a human condition.

That's right, Grandpa. Make a speech.

If I play something, will you drop a penny in the hat?

Go ahead. Play something!

               (HE goes into his room. The phone RINGS.
               SHE answers it)

MARIAN (to phone)
Hello, Zelda! How are you? What are you talking about? Who's having a poker game? You're crazy. I'm not having a poker game...
               (SUSAN ENTERS and listens)
I swear on my children's graves. Would I tell a lie swearing on my children's lives?
               (SUSAN shows her distaste at her mother's lying,
               but fascinated by the brazenness)

               (MARIAN smacks her own face to offset the terrible lie.)
When I have a poker game, I'll call you. ... Yeah. ...
               (MARIAN replaces the receiver,
               picks it up again to dial another number:
               SUSAN watching, fascinated.)
MARIAN (continuing)
Melina! Who told Zelda I was having a game tonight? She just called. ... Because, I don't like the way she plays. She never bets unless she's got aces back to back.
               (MARIAN, sensing SUSAN's presence, turns.)
Excuse me a minute.
               (to Susan)
You want the phone?
               (SUSAN shakes her head and smiles.)
What's so funny?

Listening to you swearing on your children's lives again.

Enjoy yourself.
               (SUSAN goes to her room.)
Melina, I'm baking. See you tonight.
               (SHE replaces the receiver and shouts out.)
Susan! I made you a salad! It's in the fridge.

I don't want any salad.

MARIAN (shouts)
You said you wanted to eat more greens! Eat now.
               (Phone RINGS. MARIAN answers)
Hello. ... No, Mr. Spector isn't here. Did you try union headquarters? Sorry. ... I'll tell him when he comes home.
               (replaces receiver)

SUSAN (appearing)
I don't want to eat now. I'll eat later. Who was that?

Another newspaper for Dad. Calling all day.
Eat now! I'm having a poker game tonight.
               (SHE places salad on table)

I'll eat in my room later. Stop nagging!

Who are you shouting at?
               (SUSAN goes to her room.)

               (The OLD MAN has ENTERED by now with his hand organ.
               He places his hat on the floor.)

Any requests?
               (He winds and starts to play one of
               the old left wing songs.)

Did you hear the way she shouts at me? If that man of mine won't teach her how to respect her mother...

Drop a coin.

MARIAN (drops a penny into the hat)
Sam'll kill us if he catches us. He hates when you play that.

Everybody kills. Nobody dies. Why don't he let me take it out on the street where I can enjoy myself?

Is it nice, the father of Sam Spector should beg on the streets?

I don't beg! I entertain.
               (He pushes the organ back into his room
               and shuts the door very quickly.
               He quickly opens it and shouts out.)
The working class can kiss my tukus!
               (MARIAN chuckles. The phone RINGS)

MARIAN (to phone)
Hello. ... No, he's not home yet. Any minute now. I'll tell him.
               (replaces receiver;
               but becoming restless starts to dial,
               examining herself in a mirror,
               picking out a few odd hairs with a tweezers.)
Moll? ... Me. ... Just making sure you're coming tonight...

               (ALEX, HER SON, has ENTERED
               carrying a suitcase and newspaper)

MARIAN (to phone)
I'll call you back. My Alex just walked in.
               (replaces receiver)
You're home a day early! There's trouble. I have a feeling.

Why does anything unexpected always mean trouble in this family?

They fired you?
               (HE laughs)
Don't worry. You'll get another job. It's not the only newspaper in Canada.

I finished my assignment a day early, so I came home. Is that trouble?

Who said anything about trouble? M-m-mm, you're so handsome.
               (MARIAN kisses him loudly on the face.
               HE stiffens, but likes it.)
MARIAN (continues)
Your paper, the other papers, phoning all day for Dad. Hungry?

ALEX (nodding)
That was quite a bomb they dropped.

I saw on TV. All the old lies.

Not this time.

How do you know? Don't aggravate your father, Alex. He's got the election on his head.

I didn't come home to aggravate him. I came home in case he needed me. The Right Wing are going to use that speech. It could effect Dad's election.

Nobody listens to them.
               (BENNY has appeared, on his way out.
               HE nods to ALEX)
Need any money and anything?

No, Uncle Benny. Thanks.

BENNY (nods to newspaper)
Sam'll know.
               (BENNY EXITS)

I told you when he offers money, take it. He just fritters it away.
               (SHE puts a plate of food in front of him)

Why all the baking?

Ladies auxiliary meeting tonight.

ALEX (chuckling)
Raising money for the union! Who you kidding?

Don't we raise money for the union? So we also enjoy ourselves in the bargain. It's the only fun I get these days. I hardly see your father anymore. He's married to the union. What am I supposed to do with myself. Twiddle my backside?

It's your thumbs you're supposed to twiddle.

MARIAN (putting plate down for Susan)
You twiddle what you twiddle and I'll twiddle what I twiddle.

Hi beautiful.
               (Brother and Sister smile warmly.
               SUSAN pushes the plate from her)

What's the matter with it?

I'm not hungry.

Since she met that Andre Leduc nothing pleases her.

Who's Andre?

The greatest thing ever born. Do I know. She's never brought him here.

That'll be the day.

Why not? You're ashamed of us? I don't cook well enough for him?

Who's Andre Leduc?

He's studying physics and goes to the art classes Jeannie and I are taking.

No wonder she goes so regularly to those art classes.

SUSAN (looking at newspaper asks ALEX)
Is that why you came home a day earlier?
               (ALEX nods)
You think it's genuine?
               (ALEX nods again)
If it is, Dad will resign from the Party.

You both know so much. Here your Dad is the Party.

               (From the street outside SAM and JACK NAPIER
               approach the house.)
SAM (singing)
Los quartos generales
Los quartos generales

NAPIER (joining in)
Los quartos generales, mamita
Mia no pasa nadie, no pasa nadie.....
               (They enter laughing.)
Hi, family!
               (to Alex)
Thought you weren't coming home till tomorrow.

Have you two been drinking?

SAM (giggling)
How can you tell?

What's the occasion?

Great meeting. Your father was in brilliant form.

I have to agree with him.

So we stopped off to belt back a couple.

Did you look at my painting?

Aieee! I'll look at it now. Come show me.

I brought it back to class. I asked you to look at it last night.

I forgot. Bring it back.

It's being entered in the exhibition.

I'll see it in the exhibition. The election will be over and I'll be able to examine it relaxed and not thinking of a million other things. I'm sorry, darling. You know how obsessed I get in the middle of a campaign.

The newspapers have been phoning all day.

They caught up with me at my office.

What did you tell them?

That I think the speech is a fake. All the old slanders against Stalin rehashed in a new stew.

What about all these posthumous rehabilitations of hundreds executed by Stalin?

Not by Stalin! By bloody criminal elements who had worked their way to positions of leadership. Why can't you believe Stalin had nothing to do with it?

Khrushchev says Stalin was behind it all!

That's what the American State Department is saying Khrushchev is saying. It's an American propaganda ploy. It's so damned obvious. How can you take it seriously?

Don't you ever have the slightest doubt ever about Stalin, the Party, a single, solitary doubt ever?

No. Now ask me why?


I'm glad you asked that.
               (SAM climbs on to a chair, and weaves a bit.
               MARIAN rushes to steady him. HE giggles.

Sam! How much did you drink?

Obviously one too many. Why? My mind is clear.
               (To Jack)
Why the hell haven't we done this more often? I feel fantastic! Now...
               (He assumes a pose of a public speaker addressing a meeting)
Why do I not have the slightest doubt about Stalin and the Party? Some men embody their nation; others, all of mankind. They bring human consciousness to new heights. Moses, Jesus, Shakespeare, Marx and Engels, Einstein, Lenin, Stalin. Great scientists, great poets, great philosophers, great statesmen. Scientific socialism, dialectical materialism, developed by Marx and Engels, enriched by Lenin and Stalin, represents the most advanced political and philosophical thought of man. It gives us the key that unlocks every human problem; the scientific basis for eliminating poverty, wars, racial and religious prejudice, greed, cruelty. Man's highest aspiration expressed in Utopian myths like the Garden of Eden, is no longer a dream. It is a reality in Russia. I was there. I saw it.

You saw what they wanted to show you.

I saw the people! I saw the new socialist man. Man and woman! I saw a country where men cooperate and do not compete. I saw the future!

I think you're in for a big, big shock, Dad.

Oh ye of little faith! What did I do wrong, Jack, to have raised a reactionary son?

I am not a reactionary! I'm worried that your opposition is going to use Khrushchev's speech and your position denying it and its going to blow up in your face. You've got to start facing the possibility that it's true. Then what will your position be?

The opposition is trying to use it, but I wiped the floor with them, right Jack? That's why we stopped to celebrate.

You may be celebrating a bit too soon.

I'd feel better if we had more word from the Centre, Sam, before we made any more public statements.

SAM (surprised)
Word from the centre about what?

Alex might be right, Sam! We have to wait. There were rumours, about the Old Man, that he went insane in his later years.

Rumours? There are always rumours! What the hell has gotten into you? My son I understand. He opposes me on almost everything as a matter of principle. But you? You? You're sobering me up I tell you.
               (He starts to sing again)
Madrid e bien resistar
Madrid e bien resistar...

Why didn't you tell me you were bringing Jack for supper? I'd have made something special.

We ate, Marian. When we were celebrating. Thanks just the same.

(MARIAN looks with dismay at her cooking.)

SAM looks at Napier, "Now what the hell are you trying to tell me? Do you know something I don't know?"

     Napier answers, "All I'm saying is that I think we better wait."
     Marian asks Sam, "What are you getting angry about?"
     "It's difficult to believe such blindness," says Alex.
     "Yes!" Sam retorts "but you're the one who's blind!"
     "Isn't is possible, Dad," Susan asks, "that they had to keep the truth hidden all this time, and now they feel it's okay to let it out?"
     "Now everybody wants to believe it!" says Sam. "Good, honest, dedicated people - impossible to believe in. But murderous liars - yes, that we can believe!"
     Marian asks Sam if he is going to a meeting this evening. Sam tells her that the meeting is there at the house. Marian complains that she wasn't told and that she has planned to host a poker game that evening. Sam apologies and chastises himself. Marian says it's no big deal. She'll move the game next door to Mrs. Appleby.
     "I'm sorry, baby." says Sam. "I'll make it up to you."
     "It's not a tragedy," says Marian. She gives him a hug. He mimes that he's being crushed in her embrace, and she remarks that he reeks of whisky. "Chivas Regal," he says. "Only the best."
     Marian hurries out. Sam looks at the table and takes in the extent of all of her baking. "Damn," he says.
     Susan reassures her father that its okay, that Mrs. Appleby will be delighted and that not one cookie will be wasted. She takes a cookie and begins to chew. Alex asks his sister, Susan, if she'd like to go to a movie. They leave.
     Sam, left with to his colleague, Napier, remarks "Isn't that a gorgeous looking girl?" but then complains about his son, about how "he's turned out to be a real opportunist. I had so many hopes for him."
     At this point the Old Man comes out of his room again like a mechanical clock. "Ah! Marx and Engels have arrived," he says.
     Sam laughs, but cautions his father, "Please stay in your room tonight, okay Pa? We're having an important executive meeting."
     "I warned Napoleon not to enter Moscow," The Old Man says.
     "He'll run on a bit but he'll tire himself out," Sam says to Napier. "Right, Pa?"
     And the Old Man runs right on. "What's with the cosmopolitans and the Jewish doctor's plots? They were supposed to have wiped out anti-Semitism in Russia, weren't they?"
     "Please, Pa, no more heckling. Tomorrow."
     "Puppets!" says the Old Man. "The world moves without you! I helped organize the first electrical workers union in this country!"
     "We know that, Mr. Spector. You represent a great tradition for us."
     "Please go to your room, Pa, and remain a great tradition."
     "You can all kiss my ass."
     "Very nice, Pa."
     "Twice," says his father.
     "Very nice, using street language like that in the house. Very, very nice."
     Defiantly muttering the Old Man returns to his room.
     "I remember him when I was a boy," says Napier. "He was great!"
     "Yes. He's still a howl," says Sam. Sam stares at Napier, and then asks, "What did you mean implying that the speech could be true, "the Old Man insane"?"
     "I'm just saying we better wait. We may be in for some big shocks."
     "You may be in for some big shocks, Jack."
     The Old Man reappears on the landing with a telescope which he brings to his eye to scan the living room. "Hurricanes moving westward! Africa! Come back, Africa! By gad! We just lost Africa!" Napier and Sam laugh.
     "Okay, Pa," say Sam. "The performance is over. Please, no entertainment when the meeting takes place."
     "We're marching backwards to the future!" proclaims the Old Man. He returns to his room.
     Sam picks up the newspaper, looks at it, then at his friend Napier, and shakes his head, puzzled. Sam starts to write out an agenda for the meeting.
     "Sam?" Napier calls Sam's attention. "There was a phone call from the Centre when you were making your speech this afternoon. What they're saying about Stalin is true." Sam has stopped looking puzzled and stares hard at Napier. "There's bound to be some panic," Napier continues.
     Sam remains silent. Then he stands up, and goes to the phone. He dials.
     The Old Man enters and sits at the top of the stairs as Sam speaks into the phone. "Hello. What's this you told Napier this afternoon?" Sam listens. "But why are you so positive it's the truth?" He listens in shock. "How do we know they aren't slandering him for reasons of their own?" Sam listens and then replaces the receiver without another word. He is dazed. He dials the phone again. "Jimmy... call everybody and cancel tonight's meeting... Just say I said to cancel it," he says sharply. He replaced the receiver.
     "He destroyed everybody who disagreed with him," says Napier.
     Sam starts to sing. "Los quartos generales, los quartos generales, los quartos generales, mamita, Mia no pasa nadie, no pasa nadie." He pauses. "What?"
     "Killed everybody who disagreed with him," says Napier. "Also anti-Semitic. Went mad with power."
     Sam starts to laugh. Doubles up with laughter. He tries to speak through his hysteria. "Now... if this is true... I'm not admitting it is, but if it is... it's the goddamnedest funniest thing that's ever happened in the history of the world!"
     Sam can't stop laughing. Napier stares at him. The Old Man watches him. Marian enters, and also watches him, as the stage light fade and blackout.

ACT ONE, Scene Two, the park bench in Fletcher's field. Sam and Napier discuss Sam's resignation from the party. His resignation has created a situation in which he plans to run for union presidency as an independent candidate. This will split the left-wing vote, but Sam explains that he feels that this is something that he must do.

ACT ONE, Scene Three, Sam campaigns in adversity. We watch the glue that holds the Spector family begin to dissolve.
     Susan advises her father that he better be prepared for surprises. The voters in his union, everyone is confused, she tells him.
     "Nothing will ever surprise me again, darling," he reassures her. "But I still think I'm going to win because the workers know me and trust me."
     "They love you," says his wife, Marian. "They have always loved you."
     "They may be very confused now, Daddy," Susan cautions, "so just be prepared is all I'm saying."
     Sam grins. He's delighted with his daughter. "Gizakiss," he says, and then announces, "Behold, the woman of the future!" He holds out his arms to her and she rushes to kiss him. Her mother, Marian, looks on and beams.
     After a quick embrace, Susan breaks off and turns to leave. "Where are you going so late?" asks Marian.
     Susan sighs. "I'm meeting a friend, Jeanne, for coffee. Have I your permission?"
     "No," says Marian teasing, and Susan simply leaves. "She's so beautiful," says Marian. "Why doesn't she have more boyfriends?"
     "She's a remarkable girl," says Sam. "We've produced some remarkable children. Looking at you I don't understand it."
     "It's jokes like that that make her talk to me the way she does," Marian complains.
     And Sam sings, "Oh I picked a lemon in the garden of love where they say only peaches grow."
     Marian serves him with a cup of coffee, stirring his sugar for him. Wistfully she asks, "You used to love me, Sam. What happened?" They look at each other. "When did you stop loving me?" Sam doesn't answer. "I'm asking you a question," Marian demands.
     "I've never stopped loving you. You know how busy I've been, how confusing everything's been since the revelations. But when these elections are over..."
     "I know," Marian interrupts with resignation. "We go to Mexico."
     "I may surprise you one of these days."
     "I may surprise you," says Marian, "and go myself."

A while later, in another conversation between Sam and Marian, Sam states that he's not ashamed of what he fought for and believed in, but he is ashamed of some lies and some things he did in the name of progress.
     "What things did you do? Sacrificed your life? What things did you ever do you have to be ashamed of?"
     "There are things I did, Marian, that I've never talked about."
     "Like what?"
     "And still don't want to talk about. It's too painful to remember. Go to your game, darling. Yes, Marian. I did things I was ashamed of. Criminal things."
     "I don't believe it!"
     "I love you, Marian! You never doubted I was perfect, did you?"
     "I never thought you were perfect, Sam. But I know you're a good man, a great man. Nobody's perfect, not even great men."
     "Well, that's a comfort. Have a good game."
     She embraces him and they kiss. "I love you so much, Sam. Susan, Alex adore you. How can anybody be loved like you and not be happy?"

Sam and his father, the demented Old Man (who functions as a Greek Chorus) ruminate together, and in a dreamlike moment Sam recites Ted's poem. "Sleep, sleep, come veil the ugly day. The world has gone around the world and must of lost its way."
     "Strange thing to come out of me," says Sam. He pours himself another drink and empties the glass, as the stage lights dim to end scene three.

ACT ONE, Scene Four, the election results. Sam finishes a distant third to the winning centralist candidate and to Napier, the official Party candidate. Sam, undaunted, says he'll regroup. "I'll need a month to organise a base, set up an efficient organization. Then we go to Mexico!"
     Some of Susan's friends are in the room. They include Andre Leduc, the young man whom Susan is keen on. Sam excuses himself: he's exhausted, he must rest. He goes to his room.
     "Wow!" says Alex, Sam's son. "Bottom of the poll."
     Susan's friends, except for Andre, leave, leaving Marian, Susan, Alex, Andre on stage. The Old Man appears suddenly like a ghost in his doorway, a sheet over his shoulder like a toga. "Jehovah is perfect!" he says and disappears back into his room and shuts the door.
     "Grandpa is right," says Marian. "The working class can kiss my..."
     "Ma!" Susan interrupts her just as Sam reenters, this time under an Olympian cloud of gloom. "Somebody, make a joke, quickly. I'm feeling terrible. The cat killed my canary." He shows them a feather. "I caught it eating it up. Imagine, the little bird singing away and the cat just goes and kills it. Such stupid cruelty. Why?"
     Marian, uncomfortable with this tension, goes to the phone and dials leaving Susan's friend, Andre, to answer Sam. "It has nothing to do with cruelty. The killing of one species by another is an imprinted habit and can be reconditioned."
     "Not now, Andre," says Susan.
     Downstage Marian speaks on the phone. Upstage Sam confesses "I loved that little bird." He holds the feather reverently.
     The Old Man suddenly reappears in his doorway. "We have a fascist cat." He disappears again into his room, prompting Susan to comment to Andre, "You still have to meet Uncle Benny. In between jobs as a mechanic, he deals cards for a living," while the sound of the Old Man's hand organ comes through the door from his room.
     Sam is suddenly infuriated. "Stop that bloody noise!" He rushes to his father's door and opens it. He yells furiously. "Stop playing that damned thing in this house! Stop it or I'll break the goddamned thing! Your hear?"
     "Take it easy, Dad," says Alex.
     Sam turns on his son. "You! You go write another article about your father and his fellow dupes. This time you can tell them how I behave at home."
     The Old Man has come to his doorway. Sam redirects his anger away from his son and back to his father. "I don't want that noise in this house anymore!"
     The Old Man shuts the door.
     Marian tries to quiet here husband. "Sam. Please."
     "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. He left that cage open, damn him." Sam starts to go back to his own room, but stops to address Andre. "Sorry about that show of temper, Mr. Leduc. Please accept my apologies."
     "Big men have big tempers, Mr. Spector."
     "Big men control their tempers, Mr. Leduc," says Sam.
     The curtain falls on ACT ONE.

ACT TWO: Scene One: Sam is setting out to start work on the factory floor. Though his family have told him he could get any executive job he wants in this town now, Sam feels it is a matter of integrity, of solidarity to be working side by side with the rank and file. On the way to work Sam is involved in a minor motor vehicle accident and in this and the ensuing scenes Marian, in frustration, tries to get Sam to milk the insurance company. We find Marian alone on stage as Uncle Benny comes in to ask, "Was the claims man here yet? Did you sign anything? I hope you didn't sign anything."

"A man is coming, a Mr. Hubbard. My millionaire husband isn't sure it's right to take money from them."

"I just saw Louis Baxter. He says it could be worth two, three thousand dollars."

"You hear, Sam?" says Marian. Sam enters the room with a slight limp. "We're going to be rich after all. Two, three thousand dollars."
     "Maybe four, five thousand," says Benny enthusiastically.
     "For a broken back, maybe," says Sam, "but a bruised leg is a glut on the market. You're all beginning to make me feel sorry I didn't fracture my skull."
     The Old Man wanders through. "I better wind the clock and put out the cat out for the night," he mumbles. "Come, kitty, kitty. That's a good little kitty."
     "It isn't night yet," Marian informs him, but the Old man continues, "Come, kitty, come, kitty," and wanders off.
     Benny tells Sam to, "Leave it in Louie's hands. He'll sue the bus company and they'll settle out of court."
     "Louis Baxter? When I asked him to defend me during the 1947 strike, he was too busy..."
     "This case he thinks he can win," says Benny.
     "Baxter is a crook!" says Sam.
     "Good! That's what we need. He happens to have good connections. He'll get you maybe five thousand dollars."
     "I don't want any lawsuits."
     "You've been out of work for months now," Benny reminds him.
     Sam snaps back, "What's that got to do with it?"
     "I'm sick and tired of lending this family money. You have a chance to be on easy street. You know what this family could do with six, seven thousand dollars?"
     "Mrs. Pavlou's candy store is for sale," says Marian. "We could open a little business until socialism comes."
     "I'll pay you back every cent I owe you," Sam answers Benny.
     "How? How will you pay me back?"
     "Stop pestering me, all of you. I'm not going to become a petty crook to please you."
     "You have a chance to make six, seven thousand dollars!" Benny insists.
     "Eight!" says Marian.

The claims adjuster arrives and in the ensuing conversation Marian exaggerates Sam's injuries while Sam belittles them. The adjuster speaks to Sam. "That must have been rather painful," he says amiably. Sam concurs, "Yes. It was, but I won't be crippled for life."
     Marian gives Sam a look of disgust. "How do you know?"
     The adjuster chuckles. "Well, I'm relieved to see you're being intelligent about this matter, Mr. Spector."
     "Intelligent!" shouts Marian, astounded. "That's intelligent?"
      "Inasmuch as it was no one's fault that it rained that day and the streets were slippery," Mr. Hubbard, the adjuster, continues; "inasmuch as it was not a question of the bus driver's negligence, there really isn't much of a case. I am authorized to offer you what the company feels in fair compensation, a sum of two hundred dollars."
     Marian can't believe what she is hearing. "What did he say?"
     "Two hundred dollars, plus, of course, the doctor's bills. We'll pay for that."
     Marian turns to her husband. "Sam, get back into bed!"
     "Now, Marian..."
     "Go back to bed! And you look here, Mister! Inasmuch as it was not my husband who skidded into your bus, but the other way around! And the fact is he won't be able to work for months inasmuch as he can't walk!"
     "We understand Mr. Spector had been unemployed for some time prior to the accident."
     Marian is outraged. "That gives your company the right to hit him with a bus because he's not working? Besides, he was on his way to work. First day."
     "We believe our offer to be a fair one..."
     "Is crippling a man for life fair," asks Marian.
     "I'm not going to be crippled for life!"
     "If you told my husband in his present state of mind that there was a dent where the bus hit him, and you expected him to get it fixed, he's consider that a fair offer, so don't ask him anything!"
     "Enough, Marian. I'll think it over, Mr. Hubbard."
     "Certainly, Mr. Spector."
     Sam goes to his room.
     Susan, who has been observing all this time - Marian wanted her on hand as a witness - announces, "I have work to do. Enough, Mom."
     "You stay here!" Marian tells her.
     The claims adjuster begins again. "We've made a fair offer, Mrs. Spector."
     "And we don't accept it."
     "You do as you see fit. I don't want to influence you in any way."
     "Not much," spits Marian.
     "I'll leave my card. If you change your mind, you can phone me."
     "I'll send you my lawyer's card. If you change your offer, you can phone him."
     "Well, goodbye," says Mr. Hubbard, and he calls out, "Goodbye, Mr. Spector," and in a quieter voice, "Miss Spector. I hope your father will be on his feet soon."
     "With crutches he'll be on his feet soon!" says Marian.
     The claims adjuster leaves. Marian goes to the other doors to call, "Grandpa! Benny!" They appear. "Two hundred dollars! And he was going to take it!" Sam reenters, and Marian asks him, "How come you didn't do a dance for him?"
     "It wasn't the bus driver's fault, I told you. I wasn't looking where I was going. I was on the street, not the sidewalk. He skidded"
     "The bus driver isn't the one who pays the damages. The insurance company pays it. You're worried about the insurance company. Susan, am I wrong?"
     "You do deserve damages, Daddy," Susan concurs.
     "Hooray! She agreed with me on something," Marian harps. "You know damn well if they're offering two hundred, it means they're expecting to pay more."
     "Leave it in the lawyer's hands," advises Benny. "He'll sue and they'll settle out of court."
     "They've got a medical report," Sam answers. "They know it wasn't a fracture."
     "Slip the doctor ten, fifteen bucks, he'll fracture it for you," says Benny.
     "The bus could have killed you," Susan observes.
     "Who has such luck?" Marian jokes bitterly. "You're doing this just to spite me. No other reason. Just to spite me."
     "Oh, Christ," says Sam. "How did I ever marry you?"
     "I was beautiful! That's how! You big prize! What did you do for me? You ran off to fight in Spain when I was six months pregnant with Alex!"
     "Not that again. Please!" Susan complains at her mother, while Sam retorts, "Stop being stupid."
     "Stupid? You were saving the world. You now have a chance to save your family and what are you doing?"
     Suddenly Sam shouts, "Will you stop! Will you stop!" He turns on Susan. "And you, button up your blouse! The way girls dress these days!"
     Susan is puzzled, but she buttons her blouse.
     And the Old Man says, "Sam, why don't you be a good boy and listen to your mother?" We will learn that Sam's mother told him that it were better he should kill himself then not believe in God.
     Sam ignores the Old Man, and announces, "I've decided to settle for two hundred and fifty dollars. I consider that fair."
     "He's so noble," Marian taunts. "He doesn't fool me! He's afraid to go into court unless the Party holds his hand."
     "Listen, you! Shut up!" Sam bursts out. "You're just a primitive, uneducated bitch, and I can't stand listening to you any longer!"
     "You are being a bitch, Mom," Susan joins, "and you do nag the life out of him."
     "You hear what you've got her calling me?! You're going to let her get away with that? Not going to hit her for that?"
     "How dare you talk to your mother that way!"
     Susan is astounded. "How dare I? She is a bitch! And what do you call her?"
     "She's my wife, but she's your mother, and nobody has a right to talk to her mother that way!" He slaps Susan hard across the face. "You apologize."
     Susan stares at him, horrified, holding her face. She runs to her room and can be heard sobbing off-stage."
     "You didn't have to hit her so hard," says Marian.
     Sam turns on her. "Die, will you? Why don't you die?"
     They glare at each other in a moment of stunned silence. Then Sam turns to return to his room as Marian starts to rave. She's going to get a divorce! "You hear me!?" She's not going to live with him another minute! She never knew he could be like this. She'll go to the States. She'll stay with Alex. She's still young. She'll get married again."
     "Alex needs you there, yeah," says Uncle Benny.
     "I'll cook for him and take care of the apartment for him. Oh! To hit her across the face like that!"
     "You told him to hit her."
     "I didn't think he would. He never did before. I better go talk to her."
     "Better leave her alone," says Benny just as Susan reappears dressed to leave.
     "Where are you going," Marian asks.
     "I'm leaving. He gets through calling her a bitch, a slut, anything. I call her bitch, and he hits me. That's the end. I don't have to stay in this madhouse!"
     "You're not going anywhere," says Marian. "You're still a baby, and you're still in my care. Now go to your room."
     "I'm leaving this house."
     Sam comes top his doorway to speak to Susan. "I'll never forgive myself for having done that."
     "He always winds up the good one," Marian gripes.
     "I'm not living in this house anymore."
     "You know my stupid temper."
     "Temper? You're drunk most of the time!" Marian sallies.
     "Are you out to destroy me?" Sam yells. "Why are you doing this?"
     "Leave him alone, Marian," says Benny.
     "Didn't you just say he could get thousands of dollars damages?"
     "I don't want to get involved in a court case on an issue like this," says Sam. "What I'll do? Come into the court on crutches?"
     "On a stretcher if necessary," says Marian.
     "I was once a respected man in this city."
     "That is true," says Marian. "Get yourself a few thousand dollars and everyone will respect you again." She turns to Susan. "Take your coat off. You're not going anywhere."
     "You're going to have to forgive me, Susie," Sam pleads to his daughter. "And not only for that."
     Susan tries to control her anger. "What's happening to you, Daddy? Are you really becoming an alcoholic?"
     "Yes!" says Sam. "Not socialism but alcoholism is his new creed! "It helps me face the truth about myself. It allows me to see what a coward I was. How full I was of Jewish self-hatred! Did you know that? Can you face that?" Sam becomes distracted. "Take a few drinks, it'll make it easier to face. A little secret I've kept from myself. I never dared let on I knew. I needed a miracle and thought I'd seen one in the name of truth and science. I had to believe that they had found the cure for anti-Semitism. I had to believe that! Where was I? I have to tell you something."
     Sam proceeds to tell them a version of the episode in Spain where Ted denounced, or rather, failed to vouch for Harry Moscovitz, the Trotskite. For all Ted knew Moscovitz could have been shot. Sam makes this same confession and asks his families forgiveness. They forgive him, and through this they are reconciled.

ACT TWO, Scene Four: we learn, second hand, what we have begun to see, that Sam is losing it...
     "Dr. Gillford dropped in this morning," says Marian. "He said it might be a good idea for Daddy to join AA or go to a sanatorium for a cure."
     "What's Dr. Gillford know about Dad?" asks Susan.
     "He sees him drunk on the street, raving and talking to himself."
     "That's a great way to make a diagnosis!" says Susan. "What did he use? A telescope."
     "AA isn't a bad idea," says Alex.
     "I suggested AA," says Marian. "He laughed. He said he's through joining anything."

Later during this scene we learn that Sam has made himself a little box in which to keep the secret of the world.

ACT THREE, Scene One: Susan is sketching, drawing her mother. They chatter. Marian says, "He hasn't mentioned the secret of the world for some time now." She looks upwards. "If he's better," she tells the heavens, "I'd like to take back some of the things I said. But only if he's better." Then she turns to Susan. "Is it true an art gallery took your painting? How come I had to hear about it from Andre?"
     "I'm modest."
     "You think you two will get married?"
     "I don't know."
     "Do you love him?"
     "I don't know."
     "That's a good daughter. Unburden yourself."
     The Old Man appears in the doorway. "It's Montreal," says Marian.
     "Socialism in a backward country is backward socialism," says Grandpa.
     "That was funny the first time," says Marian.
     "It's no joke," says the Old Man.

ACT THREE, Scene Two: Fletcher's Field beneath the mountain. Sam stands on the park bench, displaying his little box. No one is there except his father with his hand organ (in the version we are presenting here - which is the last version - the final rewrite. In 1962 at East Stratford there was a "crowd" on the stage at Fletcher's Field. And yes, we've visited this scene before in an excerpt from "The Minstrel Boy" where Ted described his "breakdown" after the 20th Congress. There the protagonist was called Martin. Here, in "Secret..." he is Sam.) Sam raves: "Now for the second time in history the father and son appear to reveal the secret of the world. Play! Father Noah." The Old Man starts to grind out a song on his organ. "I have it here in this little box," Sam announces, "and charging one little dollar for a look. Two looks, a dollar and a half."
     Marian has been standing on the side, and now comes closer. To the Old Man she says, "You're crazier than he is." And then to Sam she says plaintively, "Nobody's here. Let's go home."
     "Everyone is here," Sam answers. "All the comrades and fellow dupes and all the sound and fury of my fellow idiots! Can't you see them?"
     "God, enough! Enough! Nobody's listening to you."
     "Can't you hear the box cars bringing them across Europe to the camps? Can't you hear them?"
     We, the audience, hear the moans and crying and the sound of box cars.
     "Yes, Sam, I hear them. Come home, Sam. I've got a nice supper waiting. I made something you like. Come home."
     "Pain is born when life is born," says Sam. "I am finally in touch with the first explosions and they were cruel. It is even possible I am Christ returned."
     "Anything is possible," says Marian. "So what will you do if you find out you're Jesus Christ? Will you become a Catholic?"
     Sam smiles. "Who knows?"
     "You have such a beautiful smile, Sam. Come home and I'll hug you like we used to. Come, darling."
     Sam sings, "Ye banks and braes o bonny doon, How can ye bloom so fresh and fair, How can ye chant ye little birds, When I'm so weary full of care? Ye'll break my heart ye warbling birds..."
     Marian bursts into tears. "Sam, get well again. We can walk on the mountain and pick flowers again. Remember how we loved each other. I loved you so much."
     "Dead," says Sam. "Dead they speak of him as, and not a smell of rot to show the way, yet. Blow, blow, the breezes blow..."
     "Sam, is there anything I can do for you?" Marian begs.
     "Wife! Devourer! Rrrrr," Sam growls like a dog.
     "Why didn't you leave me, Sam, if you hated me so much?"
     "I couldn't. The kids. There were the kids. And didn't we love each other or something? No?"
     "I thought we did. We could have so much fun yet."
     "It's too late," says Sam. "They're planning to burn us." He looks about, anxiously, distracted, and starts to leave.
     "Where are you going? That's not the way home."
     "Who knows?" says Sam, touching his temple. "Who knows the way?"

I remember this scene from the opening night. I remember John Berry as Sam capering and raving on the mountain, heart-rendering and memorable.

ACT THREE: Scene Three. The final scene, the final act, Sam kills himself xxxxxxxxxx rewrite - Sam fails to kill himself. He tries, he stabs himself, but "The jokes still on me," he says. "I can't even kill myself properly." xxxxxxxxxx Sam shoots himself, dead. xxxxxxxxx rewrite... Sam starts to get up. They help him towards his room. Susan asks, "What does it all mean." Sam answers her: "When you find out, put it in a little box."
     They exit into the bedroom. Marian returns alone, looks at her father-in-law, the Old Man, who has been standing there silently. Marian fills a pail of water and starts washing the blood from the floor. There is a sound of thunder. Marian looks up. "Why don't you quit and let somebody else take over? You've done a lousy job!" she tells the sky. She scrubs the floor furiously. There is another crack of thunder. The Old Man looks up ruefully. Marian shouts again, "You don't scare me anymore! What more can you do to me?" The thunder rolls again. Marian sticks her tongue out and gives the heavens a raspberry. She continues washing up the mess. The Old Man crosses the stage and says, "I better wind the cat and put the future out. Come little future, that's a good little future. Come little future, that's a nice little future..." The Old Man exit. The Curtain falls.

Of course, part of the ritual of opening night is waiting up for the reviews. The morning newspapers come out in the early hours, between one and three a.m. What will the serious, respected critics think. Good reviews don't necessarily guarantee a success, but poor reviews can kill you! The important critics included Ken Tynan of the Observer, Bernard Levin of the Daily Express, Harold Hobson of the Sunday Times.
     Ken Tynan did not review the play, and his stand in didn't particularly like it, but Bernard Levin's headline banner cried: "IT'S BEEN A LONG WAIT."
     "The long, long months of waiting were worth it," Levin's review reads. "In one huge gust of a play, Mr. Ted Allan has swept from the memory all the empty, sterile rubbish that has served for so long to take curtains up and down in London. This is the best contemporary play I have seen since Mr. Robert Bolt's "The Tiger and the Horse" 600 terrible days ago. It has faults galore, and some of them are big ones. But the play has stature, passion, above all SIZE. It is a play to measure other plays by. ... Mr. Allan has hewn this play, live and bleeding out of reality. Not the trivial reality of events, but the hot reality of human beings trapped in nets of their own devising.
     "Mr. Allan whirls his characters around his head and hurls them at us, and when they land in our faces we forget that the play contains occasional clichés of language and far more clichés of thought. We forget too that Sam Alexander (3) should not have needed Khrushchev to tell him that Stalin was a murderer. We remember only that we are seeing a play. ...
     " "Trotsky was wrong," says Sam Alexander, "but we didn't need to split his head open for it." That is the terrible question that his mind cannot answer, and from a mind's failure Mr. Allan has fashioned a play that shall do any man's heart good to hear him roar.
     "Let him roar again! Let him roar again!"

"Wow!" I can hear Ted, sitting up with his friends and coffee and cigarette and whisky. "Not bad. Wow!"

The Sunday Times, March 11, 1962, Harold Hobson: "A MAN AND HIS DESTRUCTION":
     "In a Lilliputian theatrical season of shoddy revue and trivial comedy, Ted Allan's The Secret of the World towers uncertainly like a maimed giant. ...
     " ... Mr. Allan has taken to himself a tremendous theme, and he has grasped the dimensions of its meaning in terms of the human and the superhuman. ... it is an exciting thing in the theatre to come once again upon the old Greek rebellion against fate, and to contemplate in awe and wonder the repeated and pitiful, the shattering yet not entirely disheartening fall of man. ...
     "The motivation, as Mr. Allan presents it, seems as inadequate as Lear's; but like Lear's, it is fine, purifying, and frightening. The scene in which this wretched man is found to have exchanged all his little wealth against a heap of useless buttons is deeply sad and touching, and the episode that exposes him to the taciturn contempt of a mindless crowd ... stretches pathetic hands into a world of poetry.
     "In gravitas and development "The Secret of the World" is a tragedy, but it has many scenes of comedy. The antagonism between the young Jewish daughter (4) and her mother is rendered with a sharper edge and keener comic sense than is customary is stage versions of family disagreements. ...
     "Mr. Allan asks us to look at a man who did not think for himself, and whose destruction was absolute. Yet there is little in this play to dismay or weaken, and much that should comfort and quiet us. ..."

Hobson's was a very enthusiastic, but a mixed review, and Ted would have received it with an matching ambivalence. Clancy Sigel's review was even more hot and cold: "At first glance Ted Allan's play seems no exception to the general rule that contemporary stories of political people are notoriously difficult to get off the ground. The usual over-expository first act and I was ready to write it off as an earnest failure redeemed by lyrical touches of small truth and stocky grace. But then I saw that the secret of The Secret of the World lay in its stubborn cumulativeness, a gathering force that in the face of ... a swaying, ill-disciplined structure made itself felt as a crescendo of raw emotion surrounding the collapse of its protagonist. I don't think we've ever quite seen anything like Mr. Allan's play. It is neither a conventional success nor failure but exists as powerful and upsetting theatre. ...
     "The Secret of the World is a primitive scream of pain at the loss, the purloining of ideals. It must not go unheard."

And then, too, there were some enthusiastic rave reviews, reviews to die for: - Muller, "BANG AND INTO A DISMAL SEASON COMES A FINE PLAY AT LAST: A play at last! Into a dismal season Mr. Allan's powerful new drama - finely written, moving and dynamic - exploded last night like a shower of fireworks. ... this is a play that cries out to be seen. Let those of you who claim to love the theatre stand up now and be counted."

Mervyn Jones, Tribune, "THE ONLY REAL PLAY: If, within a week from now, you meet someone who claims to be seriously interested in the living drama, and who has not been to Theatre Royal, Stratford, to see Ted Allan's play Secret of the World, I encourage you to call him a liar."
     The play "would have been perfectly comprehensible to Sophocles and Shakespeare if they had risen from their graves for a night to join the audience in Angel Lane. By this I do not mean that The Secret of the World is to be compared, in terms of achievement, with Oedipus Rex or King Lear. I do mean that in all three cases, the writer's conception of his job and his purpose is the same. Thus, what we have here (in a miserable season, and with Luther soon to close) is, strictly speaking, the only real play on the London stage. ...

Graham Samuel: "IN THE VERY FIRST CLASS: ... "The Secret of the World," at the Theatre Royal, Stratford E., is a tragedy not much smaller in conception that "King Lear," which it resembles in many ways. I, at least, am completely unable to assess it as a possible masterpiece on just one sight. I suspect that it is a great play, but I am sure its full weight cannot be measured without seeing, and perhaps reading it many times. As it is one can safely say "The Secret of the World" has a scope and size that dwarf most of the self-consciously sociological products of the contemporary theatre. ...
     "Sam Alexander, a part of parts, is acted by John Berry with a dynamic power that positively stuns. This American actor-director ... is new to me. If ever there was a discovery in the theatre, this is it.
     "If the London theatre is not in the mess some pessimists think it is, "The Secret of the World" will undoubtedly transfer to the West End. I look forward to seeing it again then."

"Secret" did not transfer to the West End, but Ted took all these literary, dramatic assessments to heart. He knew that he had written an important play in scope and size, and he knew that it had its faults. He spend the next thirty years, between his other works and assignments, rewriting and attempting to perfect "The Secret of the World". Many many of the tapes that I have, that Ted left us, contain ruminations on, and rewrites of this work. Should Sam, in the last act, live or die? Those parts of the play that I have quoted above, are from his last draft of the play in the nineteen nineties. To the end it was a work in flux.

At dinner at our favourite Chinese restaurant, Buddha's Vegetarian Delight, my friend Johanna and I are talking about Secret of the World. Ted over the thirty five, forty years he wrote and rewrote "Secret" had difficulty deciding how to work the ending. Did Sam live, or did he die?
     As I have just mentioned, Ted left dozens of "micro"tapes. I am working my way through these. Some are dictations about his work. Many are reflections for his projected autobiography - though these often tend to be lists of names or notes such as, "I must tell the story of (this or that) in the autobi". Probably the major theme, though, is The Secret of the World: rewrites... On one of the tapes he is dictating corrections of draft of the version I have reproduced above, the final stage version - finalized by the death. And in one of the drafts, one of the tapes, Sam not only lives, but he triumphs this time not as the shell of a man - no! - he decides to go off to Latin America and join up with the guerrilla freedom fighters there a la Guevara.
     But Johanna has no doubt how the play (or the film) should end. Sam is dead. Whether he lives or dies he is a burnt out shell. To all intents and purposes he is spent, so for the clarity of the narrative he should die. "But he should leave some hope behind him," says Johanna. "Something that's gonna live in his children and might bloom in their future. That's a happy ending. If he lives, he's dead already and he failed."
I wanted to talk to John Berry about working with Ted during rehearsals. After much telephone tag I finally caught up with John this Sunday last (11th May, 1997). John still lives in Paris. Over the phone I asked him how he first got involved with "Secret", and did he remember anything about the Sunday Observer's review, and did he remember waiting up for the reviews on the opening night. No, he didn't. "We must have gone back to Ted's," thought John. "He was living at, where was it, the flat on the river?"
     "Deodar Rd. Putney," I supply.
     "That's right, and I was staying there with him. We were working on the play. Ted and I got into such discussions, such dues, that people on the street would hear and on some occasions they called the Bobbies." John starts to laugh, and switches stories. "I was taking vitamin shots at the time and Ted said he could do it and he used to inject me in the ass. We were getting a new secretary and she came in when I had my trousers down and it took a long time before we could convince her we weren't homosexual running a den of iniquity."
     I steer John back to my story line: the play. "Ted was at the rehearsals every day. We couldn't find anyone to play the part of Sam. We tried a few and weren't satisfied and I think it was Ted who suggested I could play the part. So I did."
     "Do you know why the play didn't transfer to the West End?" John asked.
     "I always assumed it was Oscar's (the producer's) decision," I answered.
     "Oh," John pondered. "No. Ted wouldn't allow it to transfer. He said it wasn't ready. The play wasn't ready. I think he was jealous because I got good notices," John quipped.
     "I was really terribly disturbed that we didn't transfer. That would be typical of Ted's ability to screw things up," this last said lightly, a joke.
     "My big problem," said John, "was when Ted and Oscar cut out the scene where he went mad."
     "The scene on the mountain?" I asked.
     "No, they wanted to take out the scene in which he begins to talk to himself, and because I was acting in it I let them convince me."
     "As you know I was staying at Ted's. We were having a problem solving the last act. We worked at it, worked at each other into the night. We could be very savage with each other. And I had an idea in the middle of the night. I burst into his room; threw open the door. He grabbed the telephone from beside his bed, and he said, "If you take another step I am going to crack your skull open."
     "I said, "Ted. What are you doing?""
     "He said he was identifying me with his father."
     "I said it was probably time for me to move out."

John loves to tell the story about his first meeting with Ted. It was in L.A. in 1945. "Some one in the Party called and said there was this wonderful Canadian writer who needed to met some people, so I thought I'd invite him to play baseball with the guys. You've got to know about baseball in Hollywood. There was the young Jules Dassin (5), the captain of one team, and I was the captain of the other. The importance of softball in Hollywood, it was almost as important as getting a movie made."
     "I asked Ted if he had ever played, and he said "some". We were coming up to the last inning. The game was tied, or we were one run behind, and I insisted that Ted get into the game. The guys complained, but I insisted that Ted get to bat. Well he got a hit, but he thought it was so funny he started to laugh and he fell down. And I was there screaming at him to get up. "Get up, you bastard!" I kicked him towards first base and he just laughed more." John guffaws as he tells this story.

"While we were doing the play," John continued, "Ted called me up to say, "I've got to stop doing this..." always looking for the ideal woman." And John told his favourite John-Ted-and-the-girls story. Ted was living with some woman at Deodar Rd., Putney, Lucy Carp, did I remember her. "No," I said. Well, they got a call from another lady, Alice. She'd come over from New York, and she'd been given Ted's name to look up. "She came over. Dinner got more hazy and tense. What were we going to do with her? I ended up with her on the couch. Ted never forgave me." (Shades of Brecht.)
     "Then there was Boris Menschvick's divorced wife. Ted finding the woman of his life." John and I thrashed around for the name. "That must be Lucille Little," I was finally able to suggest. "Right," said John. "They were going to get married. They bought all the silverware and they took the boat to New York. They took five days on the boat and when they got there they broke up."

I directed John back to Secret of the World asking him what it was like working with Ted during rehearsals. As I reported above, he answered with an, "I must say that I directed the play and I found it was no problem at all for me. It was a great help to me. We had all those discussions. He was never satisfied with the end of the play. I think he wrote forty five versions." Then John continued with the comment, "At one time Sean Connery was going to direct it in New York. Did you know that?"
     "Well, that's what he told me."


chapter twelve