Theatre, Daily Racing Form, 1959-05-14


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THEATRE fiy ww*** Boiton NEW YORK, May 13.— For a long time it has been said that the theatre was pricing itself out of existence, that it was heaping psychological, grim burdens onto the playgoers and in other ways making itself as unattractive as possible. There is some justice in the indictment. Tickets are high, problem plays abound and the attitudes of many house staffs are cold and rude. There is, however, at least one show that is packing them in, that delights every audience it plays to and is housed in a theatre where the entire staff from lobby to ushers is courteous and considerate. The box-office staff is made up of gentlemen who do. not look upon the public as a nuisance. The ushers smile. The organe juice salesman doesnt offer used jokes. And the company manager, Marshall Young, is a delight. AAA The show is "A Majority of One," and it seemed to me the other otherwise empty night that it would be good to go back and see it. It was obvious Id have to stand, because it is selling out, not only because Gertrude Berg and Cedric Hardwicke are its stars but also because it is a warm and lovely and winning show, a show with affection, taste and ingratiation. No one minds standing for an occasion like that. At least, about 20 of us didnt seem to mind. We shifted our feet and our positions from time to time, but we kept our interest riveted onto the stage where two superb players and a bright company gave the customers an evening of joy, illusion and heart. AAA Nothing whatsoever has happened to mar "A Majority of One" since it opened. The Leonard Spigelgass play still seems to be a play *the actors respect, Dore Scharys direction is crisp and unwasteful. The supporting actors still play as they did Opening Night, to an exact level. They are holding their characterizations without improvising on them. The two stars are immaculate in their work. Neither has begun embroidering the role, neither is taking pauses, catching flies or otherwise destroying a perfect characterization. When the lady from Brooklyn meets the gentleman from Japan, there is still that moment of cold def ensiveness on her part. Her son was killed in the war by the people this polished man represents. She puts up a shield and will not warm to him. Later, when he forces a truth-telling §cene, she learns that he, too, lost loved ones in a bitter war and her shield begins to come down. When he shows up with the sniffles, an aging man made uncomfortable by a simple cold, the last defense goes down and she begins , rummaging through her gigantic handbag for medicine to help him. I AAA The next great scene between them is when she cames to his house in Japan to try and help her son-in-law out of a diplomatic mess into which he, as an eager youngster, has fallen. The cool courtesy with which she is admitted to this flawless house, the gentlemans Oriental excess: "Forgive the disorder of my house," the invitation to dinner, the lovely, intimate way in which she is served by delightful young Japanese girls, all combine to make the beginning of the romance between these two disparate human beings. It is a scene difficult to describeT-He takes advantage of the occasion to begin the gentle pushing of his suit. Will she go to concerts, theatre and national events with him? He is starchly correct in his adult advances toward her. Correct and dignified. She, the woman, goes to the heart of the case: both are bereaved and, in all truth, neither is truly out of the period of mourning yet. It would be wrong to undertake anything Continued on Page Forty-Nine THEATRE By WHITNEY BOLTON Continued from Page Two more personal than their present relationship. Finally, comes the evening when he arrives for dinner in her Brooklyn apartment, half a world away in manners, customs, diet and religious observances. But, slowly, gently, the barriers begin to go down and in the end we have two grown, happy people arriving at -an understanding. I said, when I first saw it, that this was a dear play. It is. It is rich comedy, honest pathos, as human and warm and lovely as any play in years. It is no great play, but it is an uncommonly touching and attractive one. It was good to see it again and to see it in such good, sound hands.

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