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Young England

"At the age of eighty-three the Reverend Walter Reynolds wrote Young England, a play which received such wonderfully bad reviews that it played to full houses for 278 performances at the Victoria Palace before transferring by public demand to two other theatres in the West End of London.

"Intended by its author as a serious work celebrating the triumph of good over evil and the virtues of the Boy Scout Movement, it was received as an uproarious comedy.

"Before long, audiences had learned the key lines and were joining in at all the choicest moments. The scoutmistress rarely said the line 'I must go and attend to my girls' water' without at least fifty voices in gaod-humoured support.

"The plot, which was never cheapened by a sense of humour, tells of Major Carlingford, a betrayer of women, shady promoter and sanctimonious humbug, who spends the greater part of the evening conspiring with his scoundrel son to ruin a popular and heroic young man who is not only a scoutmaster, a town councillor and a parliamentary candidate, but also a talented engineer destined to improve the appearance of the River Thames at Charing Cross.

"When the play opened in September 1934 at the Victoria Palace Theatre the Daily Telegraph's critic wrote: 'The villain makes plain his villainy by constantly wearing a top hat in the depths of the country. His son, 'the second robber,' is some sort of officer in the Boy Scouts and brings shame upon that highly respected body by committing his major crime while dressed in his uniform. But he at least has the grace to get into immaculate evening dress proper to his kind when he wants to get drunk.'

"The show went from strength to strength, even though its clergyman author periodically roamed the aisles remonstrating with hecklers and shaking his fists."

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