Scene from The Lady's Not For Burning

Scene from The Lady's Not For Burning

Christopher Fry wrote The Lady's Not For Burning in blank verse (the same form Shakespeare usually used) to suit its medieval setting. The London premiere at the Arts Theatre in 1948 starred Alec Clunes (father to TV's comic actor Martin), but he stepped aside when it transferred to the West End adding John Gielgud and Richard Burton to the cast.

Critics were unanimous in praising the play's linguistic invention which, thought reviewer J C Trewin, had 'the relish of the Elizabethan word-men'. In 1956 the Birmingham Repertory Theatre included Fry's tale of the romance between a disaffected soldier and a woman subjected to a witch hunt in their season. Trewin, so impressed by the verbal pyrotechnics of the play, was disappointed with some of the delivery in this production. He thought Nancie Jackson (on the right here next to Albert Finney as Richard the clerk and Geoffrey Bayldon as the Mayor) as the accused girl 'seemed to have stepped out of a Chaucerian manuscript but to have called at Newnham ... on the way'. Newnham is an all-female college at Cambridge University, so he was probably implying that her diction was a little too upmarket and over-educated to be believable in the role.