New Plays in Boston
"Kismet" at the Hollis.
Kismet will prove of double charm to the Harvard man since it is not only a play of remarkable excellence, a genuine novelty in stage entertainment capitally done, but also, as it happens, the work of a not very old alumnus. Mr. Edward Knoblauch, unlike the other Edward--Mr. Sheldon--has until comparatively recently been better known, or at least equally well known, in England as here. Indeed, Kismet came to America only after it had won signal favor in London in 1911, and this not because Mr. Knoblauch chose that the British stage should foster his work but that the American managers, sagacious men that they are, had refused him a production. The fact that the play will very shortly complete the second year of its run must be granted its full importance.
"An Arabian Night" in three acts and ten scenes, Mr. Knoblauch's play gives us a day in the life of Hajj, the Beggar; from his post before the Mosque of the Carpenters in Bagdad, this scheming, yet somehow lovable, mendicant rises to be friend to Wazir Caliph, and drinks deep of the joys of life, and of its sorrows, too, and at the end of the twenty-four hours is found again on the steps of the Mosque, the old cry on his lips: "Alms, for the love of Allah!"
Mr. Otis Skinner does the part of Hajj, played abroad by Mr. Oscar Asche, and Miss. Rita Jolivet that of the beggar's daughter Marriah originated by Miss Lily Brayton. It is difficult to suppose that either character could have been better portrayed in the first production than in the present. Mr. Skinner is particularly fitted through long and thorough training to give, as indeed he does, a living Hajj, the Beggar. The staging of the play evidently offered many very difficult problems but these have been met skilfully and effectively; especially is this the case in the scene of the first act showing the Bazaar Street of the Tailors. If any fault is to be found it must be that the play contains too many interpolations in the way of songs and the like, which, while entertaining in themselves, add little or nothing to the progress of the play and very seriously try the patience of an audience which is asked to be seated at seven-forty and is not released till nearly four hours later. "Enough is a feast!"