'Ah! All will be truly exquisite when Alexandria is converted to nudism.' So went the song in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1931.
A prime mover behind the reviews was Claire Vincendon. She designed the costumes and the sets and also illustrated the programme shown here. And she sang and danced in the sketches as well as acted as compère, or rather commère as the programme describes her.
Claire Vincendon's father was Baron Felix de Menasce, a financier and one of the wealthiest men in Egypt. Her brother was Jean de Menasce who converted from Judaism to Catholicism and became a priest and was in the words of T S Eliot 'my best translator': among other things he did The Waste Land into French. Claire's half brother George de Menasce was also a financier and a collector of Greek island tapestries, Chinese jade and many other things; some of his collections are now in the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. The story of the Menasce family is included in Michael Haag's Alexandria: City of Memory.
|Claire Vincendon, standing centre, with her husband Jacques at a Finney carnival party in Alexandria. This is a detail of a photograph in Michael Haag's book Vintage Alexandria.|