The Earl of Longford has carved his A ?inlet of Jade with exquisite craftsmanship. He has fingered his semi-precious stone delicately but he has scarred its surface relentlessly with the richness of his imagination. Within the slenderness of its form the Armlet has the power to express deep things.
The Westminster Theatre is the right setting for this play. There is an affinity of restraint on both sides of the proscenium arch which establishes the right atmosphere from the start. For it is important that nothing should interrupt the smooth-flowing Of this Chinese drama. Jealousy, anger, passion sweep through the acts, but though these qualities may annihilate—they may never disturb.
In a mood of contemplative quietude, which is never stagnation, the play proceeds from scheming courtiers to rowdy poets, passionate barbarian chieftains and unfaithful wives until its whole spirit is summed up in the tottering strength of the philosopher Emperor. This ruler, the august son of heaven who occupies the great dragon throne, has become a mumbling fool preyed on by unscrupulous courtesans. The glories of earthly omnipotence have been sifted by him and now in these last stages before his. sojourn through the gate of prolonged autumn into the land of his ancestors he is content to smile upon life's quintessential beauties.
Yet spirit lives in him through all his weakness, and to save the dragon throne he slays his lovely wife. With the poignant death of Armlet of Jade the bird of love is forced for ever to limp with broken wing.
Robert Hennessy never loses sight of that latent spirit in the tired emperor, and Ria Mooney preserves all the suave formalities of her wifely position. Denis Johnston cannons his vigorous way as the only existing barbarian in the whole of civilisation. Eileen Ashe deserves to be remembered for her complete perfection in a very minor part of serving maid—and the whole Dublin Gate . Company are to be congratulated on the way in which they were able so absolutely to forget the land of their origin.
The Substantial Shadow
Mr. H. F. Maltby's gentle thriller at the Playhouse is greatly pleasing all those who go to see it.
Entitled The Shadow, it is a thing essentially substantial and deals in such substantialities as strangulation, with its effect upon the situations—not upon the psychology of the characters.
Wholly conventional, this play is a competent piece of work carried out by a more than ordinarily competent cast. Its plot is the tidiest thing in plots, and ravels and unravels itself just as it should.
It is, in fact, as though the author had a yard of cord in his hands and proceeded to knot it up into very complex, but very careful, tangles. Then, when the mesh of complications was completed, he proceeded to unknot the cord again until it resumed exactly the same straight length as in the beginning. An action of orderly futility.
The author himself enlivens the play enormously by his robust personality, and Mr. Cecil Parker and Miss Eileen Peel hold the suspense of their audience to the very end. Miss Marjorie Taylor, too, will be_ acclaimed as the perfect daughter by all disillusioned parents, while Mr. John Robinson always acquits himself as an "eligible" should.
More in favour of The Shadow cannot truthfully be said.
Humour—A Special Brand
Some weeks ago Miss Trudi Schoop brought her team of dancers to the Embassy—but got herself lost in the heights of Hampstead and London was not aware of what it was missing.
Miss Trudi Schoop has found herself now at the Vaudeville, and her entertainment—best described as mime—is the slickest piece of comedy every conceived in this vein.
The medium of Miss Schoop's art is her body. She can convey all the subtlest feelings with those expressive limbs of hers One flick of a finger— futility; one kick of a heel—disgust; one forward thrust of the chest—pride; and the audience is living her every mood. Movement is the whole thing. Miss
Schoop has an ascetic attitude towards stage properties as an easy aid to production. She will have absolutely nothing on the stage at all. Plain curtains form a background, and if someone must sit down, a plain wooden stool, such as stands beside the bar of every public house, is planted on the empty boards. But genius like that of Miss Schoop's makes the solidest bricks of impression without any need of the straw of stage props.
Want Ads was the opening piece. Newspaper readers in public libraries will recognise their antics, and here full scope is given to the soaring heights of that special brand of original humour which is the Schoop's own.
Fridolin—tbe evening's main attraction —is sheer morality, but so deeply is it hidden under sheer entertainment that no one need be afraid to swallow such a sugared pill.