Roi Cooper Megrue's latest play, "Honors Are Even," bids fair to take a rank in the approval of the theatre going public alongside of "Under Cover," "It Pays to Advertise," and "Tea for Three," its precursors by the same author. Mr. Megrue has wisely enough adopted he policy of Booth Tarkington and other eminent playwrights--the policy of writing only one play every other year. The playwright is accordingly enabled to give the public in each instance a play of real lasting merit, and not merely an expanded and hastily-constructed sketch.
Although "Honors Are Even," now playing at the Park Square Theatre, is not classified in the program under any given type of play, it has been generally acclaimed as a "comedy"; the plot, however, is so light that it borders close upon a "farce" in fact it might most appropriately be termed a "farcical comedy." Flimsy as the plot may be, there is, nevertheless, a continual element of surprise running throughout the performance. The piece opens with an unusual and very ingonious prelude in three incidents, depicting in a convincing and amusing, fashion the love affairs of a popular society girl of the present generation. The element of surprise continues through a battle of wits between the hero and heroine, so that the spectator is in a quandary to know who is playing the hypocrite and who is not, who is lying and who is telling the truth, and, finally, who it is that really holds the upper hand. Then, too, in order that the audience shall not for a moment stop guessing, a crook is uncovered--in the midst of what had been heretofore presumed to be the "elite" of society.
The dialogue is chiefly argumentative, and, perhaps, the same idea is too often repeated in similar lines, causing the play to drag slightly in spots through lack of action. Mr. Megrue's characterizations, however, are admirable, and it is through them that he comments humorously upon many subjects of the day. Politics, bridge, marriage, prohibition, all come in for their share of merriment. Such lines as "Prohibition, like marriage, is all right for the other fellow!" will never fall to cause laughter.
"Honors Are Even" is acted by an exceptionally well-balanced company, headed by the inimitable Lola Fisher as Belinda Carter and by the superb William Courtenay as the hero. Miss Fisher admirably portrays the part of a wilful, spoiled, affected young girl, tired of being courted in the usual manner. Finally, when the "great love" comes, she reveals herself to be only human and falls at first sight for the charms and wiles of John Leighton, ably impersonated by Mr. Courtenay. The play should not be commented upon without a word extolling its settings and scenic effects. Besides the prelude and its shadowgraphic representations, the stage setting in the second act is worthy of special mention. It is not often that one can find in New York such a romantic spot as is afforded by John Leighton's rooms on the top floor of a sky-scraper, overlooking, as it does, by night, the glaring lights of Broadway.
For all classes of theatre-goers, "Honors Are Even" should prove a thoroughly enjoyable performance. And for those in particular who delight in sprightly dialogue and revel in a battle of wits as well as of tongues, the play is difficult to surpass.