This simple, gently, entirely moving play about an eleven-year-old boy whose parents have been divorced deserves your immediate patronage. Leopold Atlas has fashioned out of the prevalent problem of divorce, a play that is one of the finest and most compassionate of the season. Acted with surprising sincerity, it has all the qualities of the old “tear jerker” yet it never descends to the maudlin.
Frank M. Thomas, Jr., said to be but twelve years old, plays the part of “Wednesday’s Child”, who, if you remember your nursery rhyme, is “full of woe” and does so with a restraint and understanding that elicited loud cheering from an otherwise weepy audience.
The author very sensibly tells his story through the thoughts and reactions of the boy. It shows his father catching his mother in an act of infidelity. A divorce is procured and in a well-staged courtroom scene the judge awards the custody of the boy to both parents; he is to live with his mother for eight months each year and with his father for four. As a matter of fact, both parents profess great affection for the lad but both have remarried and the boy is quick to sense that he has no real place in either of their lives. He falls ill and after he recovers is sent away to a military school, where you find him with a group of boys who are likewise victims of broken homes. It is here that the author has brought his problem to a head. He pictures the parents of these boys dashing hurriedly up to the school, showering the boys with gifts, doing everything they think they should do to make the boys happy, but you know it is all synthetic. What the boys need is a place where they can put their roots down, where they can have a sense of security-and these are the things they dont get. They realize it, and therein lies their unhappiness.
There are few weak spots in “Wednesday’s Child”, and these occur when the author scemingly fumbles his dialogue, but here the skill of the producer has come bounding to the rescue and through intelligent directing and fine acting on the part of the cast these can be overlooked.
“Wednesday’s Child” is a fine, brave play that attacks the vulnerable problem of parental responsibility with vigor and meaning. It never becomes preachy and for this alone the author has earned the gratitude of his audience. Rumor has it, that the script of this play went the rounds of the producers, none of whom could see its possibilities. Messrs. Potter and Haight are to be congratulated on their vision. They should get their reward from what I believe is going to be a wellmonied box-office.