THEATRE By W. J. IGOE
LADY PRECIOUS STREAM (ARTS TirEsua) FRESH, so to speak, from Jimmy Russell's hostelry hovering corn-, fortably above Leicester Square Station, and pensive perusal, in an evening paper, of the works of General Wu Hsiu-Chuan at Lake Success, the oddly Slavonic yelps, the tinny growls, slatepencil accusations, the pebble-eyed stares, Mr. S. I. Hsiung's comedy is consoling, happily noa,talgie and warmly entertaining.
It would be wonderful if the Chinese were wholly like these figures from a Victorian tea-pot. Or the Russians like the people Chekov created. Alas, they never were. These are figments of a child's dream. Original sin remains our universal mark, General Wu may sleep, in seven at our minds, each night at the Arts Theatre. At Lake Success he was up betimes in the morning. We none of us are especially nice fellows.
This is a pleasant play, a Chinese an
comedy that is becoming English classic, one of the few to which we can take both grandma and the baby.
The enticing nonsense of the reflected i Chinese theatre is n the
two coolies, laconic property men who issue swords for executions, cushions upon which to catch fainting parents and, between spasms, neat tea-cups for the refreshment of ranters. All the irony we Westerners like to associate with Confucianism is in the tale of the Lady Precious Stream who outwits her high-born father, Wang Yun the Prime Minister, and marries Hsieh Ping Yun, poet, gardener and street acrobat. The husband goes to the wars and, eighteen years later, comes back King of the Western Regions. Pride is confounded all around. It is very moral, and, one is aware, of the tongue in the cheek all the time. The wicked are judged, and punished with a chuckle. Lady Precious Stream does not age a day. Since she is played by Miss Joy Parker with quaint humour, tirtkling dignity, and the grace of a comically constricted ballerina we are grateful for the magic. Miss Parker must never grow old.
Mr. David Bird as the Dragon General, erupting like a slow volcano of molasses, Mr. Cam n ero Hall as the apoplectic papa and Miss Lally Bowers as the sweetly Mhiavellian mama are outstanding in a finely-balanced cast. This is a perfect Christmas choice for the family.
LACE ON HER PETTICOAT (Amsessenoas)
IF Barrie had been a Socialist he might have given us a comedy not unlike this sentimental trifle from Miss Aimee Stuart.
Only in their cups will Scots truly enjoy it. But even sober they will fall in love with two very youthful actresses, Misses Eleanor Macready and Perlita Neilson, who play the daughters of a milliner and a noble family. The children wish to be friends but are restrained by their parents' mutual snobbery. I am not so sure this could have happened in Scotland; our snobs move on a rather different nlane. But it makes charming entertainment for foreigners. Miss Sophie Stewart, Miss Murie: Aked and Mr. Ellis Irving as the grown-ups abet their juniors with great generosity and considerabls talent. JOY BELLS (Emetetc) I BELIEVE this to be, considering theatre prices, the best family show presently available in London.
Mr. Nat Karson has blended ballet, precision dancers, a singing chorus and variety into a most happy little revue. A dozen wonderfully rotund snow-men carolling
with Mr. George clachino's band as accompaniment, lead into a charming ballet interpretation of the Nut Cracker Suite, a good humoured and hair-raising acrobatic number with The Harvard's, a pantomime medley, with the ballet company and the precision team, and an enthusiastic comedian from America. Mr. Vie Hyde. The Empire maintains an extraordinarily y high standard of entertainent. This time, perhaps as a Christmas gift, it surpasses itself.
A GLASS OF WATER (Mo.acurtv)
MR. Ashley Dukes tells us that he has freely adapted Scribe's comedy of the Duchess of Marlborough and Queen Anne. With the aid of a strong team of players he, and the producer, Mr. Rollo Gamble. delicately turn it into a lovable and laughable charade. The prime minister is played by Mr. Charles Lloyd Pack with that sense of coy satire which is a special gift of this fine comedian; Mr. Vernon Greevcs as the blankly stupid officer of the guard, unaccountably promoted, over his own head, by love-sick ladies, makes of the role ark eighteenth century Lill Abner.