For those who delight in the performance of murder plays, Broadway presents “Ten Minute Alibi” and “Keeper of the Keys”, both of which present two distinct problems to tease the amateur detectives in the audience.
“Ten Minute Alibi” by Anthony Armstrong, playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, will please the puzzle addicts more than the fanciers of mysteries. There is no mystery about this murder, which is committed in full view of the spectators and no sympathy for the murdered man, who gets what he deserves. What concerns the spectators is that the young barrister who commits it (played admirably by Bramwell Fletcher) should not be caught. The suspense which is maintained by the barrister’s concoction of a watertight alibi is exciting but unless one is mathematically minded and can figure in seconds, the play may not prove very exhilarating.
With a sense of superiority the audience views the two detectives trying to deduce from what little evidence there is, who the guilty one may be. The one amusing line in the play is provided by Oswald Yorke as Sir Miles Standing, a severely respectable gentleman who, thinking he is suspected of the crime, exclaim: “I couldn’t commit the murderâ€”I am a Conservative.”
One of the most likable figures in detective fiction, Charlie Chan, comes to life in the person of William Harrigan to solve the murder of the alluring opera singer who might have been murdered by any one of her three former husbands, and the fourth from whom she is freeing herself. “Keeper of the Keys”, dramatized from Earl Derr Biggers’ novel by Valentine Williams, at the Fulton Theatre, is not as thrilling as one might possibly wish, but it is a good mystery well acted by a competent group and greatly embellished by William Harrigan, whose interpretation of Inspector Chan of the Honolulu police is very effective, although it differs considerably with Warner Oland’s portrayal of that same figure on the screen. Mr. Harrigan makes Chan a quietly forceful person and one less humorous. It is that which makes Mr. Harrigan’s portrait more convincing.
While neither play provides the necessary thrills that go towards making it an exciting adventure, they both nevertheless will appeal to those who love mystery and murder.
FROM “DIE FLEDERMAUS”
Gay and sparkling as the wine it commemorates in song, “Champagne Sec”, despite inherent weaknesses in the libretto which even the bright Lawrence Langner could not overcome, will fully repay one for a trip to the Morosco Theatre.
Adapted from Johann Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus”, which was written back in the 1870′s, it is a well-staged and admirably acted version and regardless of the creaky text, the lilting freshness of the Strauss melodies still pleases. Helen Ford, as Adele, gives us the most delightfully humorous performance of the evening. She has a pleasant sense of comedy and a charming voice. Peggy Wood, Kitty Carlisle, as the Prince, Joseph Macaulay as the prison-warden and William J. McCarthy, deserve special mention for their acting and singing.
For those who do not recall the story of a gay Vienna that has passed, the plot deals with a series of practical jokes that are played on Herr Von Eisenstein in revenge for a joke which he played on a friend years ago. In a series of incidents wherein everyone pretends to be another so that the philandering Eisenstein may flirt with his wife, who supposedly is a Hungarian Countess, the story has its denouement in a jail where much gaiety and song prevail.
It is rather a mixed-up affair but what saves the operetta, is that it is rather a satire on the form itself and is not to be taken seriously.
Although at times the performance might seem to verge on the burlesque, it is pleasant and therefore one disregards much.
The Strauss waltz airs, the song in praise of champagne and “Chacun A Son Gout” are gay and lively, sentimental as well, and what better proof of the success of “Champagne Sec” can there be when one hears during the intermissions and at the end, various members of the audience shyly humming the melodies?
Because of the reception accorded Uday Shan-Kar and his troupe of Hindu dancers and musicians at last Sunday’s performance, he will return tonight to Carnegie Hall before leaving for a tour to the coast. His program will include a number of favorites of last year not yet offered this season, such as the Radha and Krishma dance, Atra Puja, the sword dance by the entire company and Rama Chandra. Because of his early departure, the curtain will rise at 8:15.
The dances offered by Shan-Kar are the traditional ritual dances of ancient India, which are concerned for the most part with the loves, hates, anger and jealousy of Hindu gods and are accompanied by an orchestra of two hundred exotic instruments, which to Western ears, have a strangely insidious quality of rhythm.
“Germany Aflame”, a new Yiddish drama by Ossip Dymow, in which Samuel Goldenberg and Joseph Buloff will be co-starred, opened at the Second Avenue Theatre on Friday evening. The play is Dymow’s dramatization of his own novel of the same name based on present conditions in Germany which is appearing serially in The Day. Others in the cast are Rose Greenfield, Annie Thomashefsky, Judah Bleich, Luba Kadizon, Zvee Scooler and Moishe Feder.
Ruth Bricken Stoloff.