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Mad Jack

BBC1, February 1970


Tom Clarke’s play about Siegfried Sassoon, ‘Mad Jack’ (BBC1), also offered a study in inconsistency. Not a pacifist, but against war, Sassoon tried to take a firm stand on an intermediate position. In martyrdom half-measures earn no gaudy scars. His protest was utterly ineffective, and he was left to dwindle in a Liverpool hotel until the decent chaps from the mess had betrayed him into saving himself. Michael Jayson, who read from Sassoon’s poems with fine restraint, was not quite my idea of a 31-year-old blood sports enthusiast. But this country-gentlemanish side of Sassoon was cleverly insisted on by the playwright when he made us look through Sassoon’s eyes at Bertrand Russell and Lytton Strachey and see a couple of weirdies in the Garsington garden.



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