The Theatre: New Plays: Mar. 1, 1926

  • Share
  • Read Later

The Night Duel. Marjorie Rambeau was the principal reason for this production. She is giving a sound sample of a not unusual phenomenon—the good performance in the bad play.

Miss Rambeau is called upon to solve again the old problem of how far a wife should go to keep her husband out of the villain's clutches. The clutches in this case mean a jail term. As usual the villain has loved the wife. This calls inevitably for a scene in the villain's bedroom with the wife preserving her self-respect at the point of a gun. There is a backspin on the ending, unusually sharp but scarcely worth the depression of the first three acts.

The Right to Kill, a drama from the Russian, and Bunk of 1926, a semi-amateur revue, appeared last week at outlying theatres. Both were crude.

The Unchastened Woman. Ten years ago this endeavor was a brisk success as played by the accomplished Emily Stevens. Just now it does not seem so brisk. There is an air about it of dust disturbed. People do not like so many lumps of coincidence in their play these days. There are complications about smuggling and infidelity, and some excellent acting. Violet Kemble Cooper and Morgan Farley have the leads.

The Wisdom Tooth. Some people say that the soft brilliance of this play has not been equaled on our stage this season. Others that the play is thick spun and quietly uninteresting. These latter are right, according to their lights, and that is why the cinema and Michael Arlen fatten and flourish. The Wisdom Tooth is probably for a few people. These few will go over and over again, perhaps introducing certain of their dependable friends. Then, if they can sell the balcony seats somehow, the piece will be a hit.

Marc Connelly is primarily responsible for this curiously distinguished adventure. Mr. Connelly is the man who worked so long and so successfully with George Kaufman in the manufacture of such plays as Merton of the Movies and Beggar on Horseback. The Wisdom Tooth is his first flight alone.

The hero is a dusty little clerk who, through the facile mood of fantasy, finds himself face to face with himself as a boy. He was a freckled, active, vital kid. He is a pale and pulseless man. So the kid goes along with him for a while and stirs his spirit to the point of telling his boss to go to the devil and asking his girl to marry him.

This skeleton synopsis cannot in any sense recapture the searching subtleties, the beauty, the sorrow and the fun of Mr. Connelly's play. It is both delicate and deep. It is played to perfection by a troupe of comparatively obscure and uncannily well selected actors.