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The Tycoon

The Times, 31st December 1968, Henry Raynor

Kenneth Jupp’s Chelsea Trilogy which over the past year or so has provided Anglia Television with crisp, percipient, literate plays ended last night with ‘The Tycoon’. Mr Jupp’s Chelsea, in the new play, includes only a higgledy-piggledy sculptor’s studio-cum-flat and the ultimate in penthouse luxury, but these settings are only manifestations of the two characters whose polarity makes the play.

Mr Jupp’s dissatisfied, 40-year-old millionaire is inescapably trapped in a money-making routine which no longer satisfies him. He had entered it in resentment, determined to beat a system which ruined and killed his father. He has all the luxury, including young and beautiful mistresses, but his work no longer satisfies him: Mr Jupp suggests that his trouble is that he makes nothing but only manipulates men and money.

Granted that the situation is feasible, that a man can make money without caring for it, Mr Jupp’s play develops quietly, powerfully and not quite predictably. Disaster comes when Guy Taylor meets the young sculptor whose wife is his latest mistress. The young man asks him for a job and thus compromises his artistic integrity; Taylor wants to save him from the wiles of a commercial world and to live through him the life he himself has missed. His faith in mental brutality as a road to maturity destroys everything he wants to save.

Mr Jupp has created a splendid group of hangers-on to make their obeisance to wealth, and has given effective roles to Isobel Black and Michael Pennington. Guy Taylor is a nice, Mephistophelian concept, a spirit of denial who has begun by denying himself; Ian Hendry played him well, quietly suggesting chaotically undirected force. The sculptor’s masterpiece was by Elizabeth Frink; his other work seemed quite ordinary. Mr Jupp flattered his audience with music by Elgar, neat literary allusions and references to Henry Moore.

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