April being Aprilâ€”although you might have thought it was midwinter, judging by the mercury readings this week â€” your correspondent begs leave to report the usual dearth of new theatrical fare at this period of the waning season. There was a play called “A Journey by Night,” adapted by Arthur Goodrich from the German of Leo Perutz, that moved into the Shubert on Tuesday night, to be sure, but it really wasn’t very much.
“A Journey by Night,” as you must have heard, had been knocking around in a multitude of versions for many months before the opus finally took sickly shape at the local playhouse. Perutz’s original script was entitled “A Trip to Pressburg.”
It looked to this reviewer as though the sponsors of this hackneyed vehicle were led to believe the piece had something because it had sex. There can be no denying that the latter ingredient is all but the only item going into the brewing of this unsavory Broadway ale, but somehow it seems the only way to get it down is by pinching the nostrils after repeating over and over: “I’m not squeamish. I’m not squeamish.”
Just to give you an idea, let it be recorded that the story deals with a romantic youngster who holds up a bank because of infatuation for a woman he believes to be a countess. But it develops the woman isn’t a countess, do you see?
Clifford Odets, the vibrant young playwright of the Group Theatre, is going to have still another of his plays trotted out for approval. The new concoction is called “Paradise Lost” and it will be produced next season. The Group will put it on, of course.
When the talk around Times Square begins to turn to who’s going to operate in which red barn, it is plain that ere long the critics will be uncovering the adding machines and embarking on the gentle art of capitulation and recapitulation. But whatever else the demon statisticians discover, one fact is certain to be washed upâ€”the Jews in the theatre, from tragedy to farce, through comedy and musicals, were quite active.
“Accent on Youth,” the charming comedy by Samson Raphaelson, was to place Kenneth McKenna in Nicholas Hannen’s shoes with Saturday’s performance, thus making the attraction at the Plymouth more Jewish in personnel. Kenneth, in spite of the name, is the son of Leo Mielziner, noted artist, and the brother of Jo Mielziner, who designs the sets for almost every other show in town. Raphaelson, the author of “Accent on Youth,” is Jewish, too, as is Benn W. Levy, who staged it. The latter, a Jewish Englishman, is quite a playwright himself and also the husband of Constance Cummings, the star of “Accent on Youth.”
Inhabiting the Yiddish Folks’ Theatre on Second avenue at the moment is “The Brownsville Grandfather,” comedy – drama by Abraham Blum. It’s about a venerable gentleman who isn’t wanted around by his children. That being the situation, he is forced to take up his residence in a home for the aged. Baruch Lumet plays the main role for all it is worth and then some. “The Brownsville Grandfather” is scheduled to stay at the East Side house through the holidays, with a limited run thereafter likely. B. T.