A play i three acts by Wilhelm Speyer,adapted from the German by William A. Drake.Settings by Aline Bernstein; staged by Crosby Gaige and Robert C. Fischer; produced by Mr. Gaige and D. K. Weiskopt. At the Selwyn Theatre.
As the title so brightly suggests,this is a mystery play.It was adapted from the German by William A. Drake,a young man who discovered,translated and generally boosted Vicki Baum’s novel,”Grand Hotel”. In this present work he has not the same present work he has not the same attractive material to work with and the virtues of the play are not many.The realyly outstanding event of the evening is the appearance of A.E. Matthews in the leading role.
This suave gentleman from England is seen in the guise of a very successful New York trial lawyer. He is a meticulous fellow, cold and calculating,but always a gentlemant unmoved by the mundane passion of us ordinary mortals.His wife craving a more demonstrating love has an affair with an artist who is the antithesis of her husband. A kind fellow, he befriends a lady of the streets and takes her home with him. She is next discovered a corpse,murdered in his apartment,and therin lies the mystery.Although the police are not let into the secret,the audience is, and is shown the lady expertly and thoroughly murdered by none other than our lawyer friend.He of couse has made his escape with a minimum of fuss and the play is then concerned with the spectacle of the lawyer defending his wife,her lover and himself from the snooping of the rather naive police.
The play is a trifle better than the ordinary run of the mill mystery play. It is well acted expertly diricted and inteligently presented, but it is. unfortunately, not exciting or especially gripping. The first act is by far the best, but the next two sessions slough off to a shisper. M. Matthews’ performance is a needed lesson for actors who think that the only way to play a role is to holler, stamp and practically whistle their way through a part to convince the audience that they are “in there” trying. Mr. Mattews demonstrates that an actor can be convincing without having a case of hysterics.
THEODORA, THE QUEEN
A play in three acts, by To Milward and J. Kerby Hawkes. Scenvery by Yellenti; lighting by Louis Hartman; staged and produced by Jo Gragam. At the Forrest Theatre.
Theodora was the most successful prostitute of the sixth century. She lived in Constantinople and sold her favors at no cut rates. When Justinian was rising to the throne of the Eastern Empire, Theodora thought that it would be nice to become queen. Her method was simplicity itself, she simply refused to allow Justinian the privilege of her bed-room, and as history will testify, she got her man.
In the play by Jo Milward and gal is shown as a victint of love and falling for the really timid young Emnernt. She gives up hr life of sin and becomes surprisingly priggish.
Presented with a quiet dignity and with the sittings of the Byzantium period, the play does not come off. It is verbose and often dull.You are never made to feel that you have been whisked b ack to the sixth century; instead the impression is gained that the piece is nothin more than a modern love story done in Byzantium dress, and done none too weel.
Theodora is played by Elena Miramova, Minor Watson is Justinian and Horace Braham is his rival Hypatius. This trie exccute their roles with skill and precision.