In presenting John Galsworthy's "Strife" for the first time in America as originally written, the Henry Jewett Players have again taken an ambitions step, and a supreme test of their capabilities, with sweeping success. Though the play is largely propaganda for calm, clear thinking about the social and industrial conditions of the day--leading one to think more of its significance than its production--its message and effect could easily be distorted were it not given the well-balanced, understanding handling for which Mr. Jewett and his company are becoming recognised.
Beginning with a meeting of the directors in the Manager's house the play presents every side of the situation on the last day of a bitter strike way, lead on both sides by extremists, at the Trenartha Tin Plate Works on the borders of England and Wales. With remarkable paralleling, Mr. Galsworthy grips his audience now with pictures of the discomforts and illness of the old father, the head of the Company, and his children; now with the tragic sufferings of the workers and their families; and again with the impassioned appeals of labor agitators before the quarrelling workers, half-erased from starvation and exposure Nothing is settled except that the fortune of the weak and defenceless creates a stronger human appeal than that of the powerful. The extremists on both sides are thrust aside and a compromise is affected.
H. Conway Wingfield and E. E. Olive divide the leading honors of the production in their roles of the opposing leaders. As Annie Roberts, the martyred wife. Ingrid Dillon brings out sweetness and charm to temper a harrowing part which could easily have been overdone. Margaret Pitt plays slightly out of the directness and sincerity of the other characters treading dangerously near the melodramatic in her Madge Thomas, the head-strong working girl.
For the rest, a specially organized and trained company could not play the piece with a more impressive, simple directness.