Johnson Over Jordan

Administrative / Biographical History

Johnson Over Jordan was one of Basil Dean's most significant productions, although reviews were mixed and it had only a short run at the New Theatre in February-March 1939. Written by J.B. Priestley for his friend Ralph Richardson, Johnson Over Jordan was a modern morality play in which the central character reviews his life in reverse. It gave Dean the opportunity to experiment in new production methods, with particular attention being paid to an innovative reflective lighting scheme, realised by Bill Sheridan and the Strand Electric Company. The incidental music was composed by Benjamin Britten and the sets were designed by Edward Craig. Ralph Richardson's performance was widely admired, and the failure of the production so angered Priestley that he arranged for it to be transferred to the Saville Theatre (Mind's Eye, pp. 265-70).