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The Second Man

Synopsis

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A comedy by S.N. Behrman.
[Starring] Michael Denison and Joyce Heron

The action of the play takes place in Clark Storey's flat on the West Side of New York City
"...For, together with, and as it were behind, so much pleasurable emotion, there is always that other strange second man in me, calm, critical, observant, unmoved, blase, odious."
Tonight's play, though it is produced in the dress and settings of the present day, was written a quarter of a century ago - at the tail-end of the jazz and flapper age, when the first world war was fading comfortably from memory and the second had not yet begun to cast its shadow over the Bright Young Things. The period has been preserved in the English theatre, like a beetle in amber, in the works of Coward, Lonsdale, and the later Maugham; and in America by a number of similarly witty craftsmen who included Samuel Nathaniel Behrman. It was the twentieth-century's golden age in the field of glossy, sophisticated comedies-elegant, civilised trifles, with dialogue that had the sparkle of the champagne that inevitably found its way into every one of them.
The Second Man, set in a studio apartment on New York's West Side, omits the more obvious trappings of this restlessly gay era (no one dances the Charleston or speaks of 'speakeasies'), but it is as well to realise that the characters have their roots in that careless world of 1927.
Their talk and their problems have to do mostly with the stuff that, so legend has it, makes the world go round; with the joys and sorrows of the world's oldest emotion; in short, with love-and with infatuation (which is the faintly deprecatory word we give to love when we get over it).
Clark Storey and the three people who are in and out of his apartment throughout the play are all suffering the pangs and uncertainties of the amorous condition, and their affairs overlap and interlock in a way which is remarkably hostile to synopsis. It is enough to say, perhaps, that Storey himself-a part-time writer and full-time cynic - is fighting a growing love for Monica, because he wants to marry Kendall who is nice and rich and can support him in the manner to which he would like to become accustomed; that Kendall is willing to accept him on these outrageous terms; but that Monica, although affianced to Austin, carries a blazing torch for Storey and is, moreover, both pretty and predatory.
(Kenneth A. Hurren)

Contributors

Writer: S.N. Behrman
Settings: John Cooper
Producer: Leonard Brett
Kendall Frayne: Joyce Heron
Clark Storey: Michael Denison
Austin Lowe: Arthur Hill
Monica Grey: Gene Anderson

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This site contains the BBC listings information which the BBC printed in Radio Times between 1923 and 2009. You can search the site for BBC programmes, people, dates and Radio Times editions.

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Feedback about The Second Man, BBC Television, 21.00, 24 February 1953
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