THE THEATRE IN BOSTON
Miss Helen Hayes a Charming Transitional Type, Between Flapper and Debutante.--Supporting Cast Excellent.
Probably the best of recently developed American "comedies of manners" opened last Monday night at the Hollis Street Theatre under the title of "Bab." It is the dramatization by Mr. Edward Childs Carpenter of one of the famous sub-deb stories of Mrs. Mary Roberts Rinehart that appeared two years ago and had such vogue. Contrary to expectations, the play has turned out to be not a mere hodge-podge of vague material, but a clearly defined, well-balanced and artistic production. It is rather remarkable for a play, dramatized by another than its author, to resemble to such an extent the original story.
The exposition of the characters is made with such finesse that one scarcely realizes it. The curtain rises on Leila Archibald, spoiled, petulant and debutante, about to start with her mother for the country club tea. Mrs. Archibald, is the typical mother of such daughters as Bab and Leila, nervous, socially ambitious, and perpetually worried about clothes, conventions and eligibility. Carter Brooks is a charming young man who is in love with Bab but who has always been of Leila's set. Bat thinks he is in love with Leila, but the Honorable Clinton Beresford has that honor, although Mr. Archibald strenuously objects to him for being a "foreigner." Bab's father is just as Bab's father should be--sympathetic, humorous and affectionate.
Bab herself is the moving spirit of the play. She it is who, driven home from school by an epidemic of the measles, changes a peaceful home into a madhouse; it is her romantic notions that bring about the situations of the play. The fads and fancies of a modern girl at that interesting point in her life, when she is no longer a flapper and not yet a debutante, are remarkably well presented by Miss Helen Hayes. In "Dear Brutus" and. "Clarence" Miss Helen Hayes has done some very clever work, but as Bab she approaches the heights of genius; the least one can say of her is that she is admirably fitted to the part. Mrs. Rinehart created a character, Mr. Carpenter presented it on the stage, but the charm of the play lies to a great extent in the clever interpretation Miss Hayes gives it.
Miss Katherine Alexander and Mr. Tom Powers, whose stage and war records are so excellent, from, with Miss Hayes, a trio of very charming presence. Miss Alexander gives us a Leila who is perhaps more attractive than necessary, but who interpretates the role very well.
Mr. Tom Powers as Carter Brooks presents a sincere and pleasing appearance, youthful and affectionate, and a possessor of striking personality.
"Bab" promises a good run in Boston, and even a better one in New York. Certainly, few plays have opened here more auspiciously.