The Dramatic Club is in many respects an unique organization; but the quality which stands out above the rest is the constant versatility shown in the selection and production of its plays. Where it might adhere to one type of drama--English social comedy, for example, the type so dear to the hearts of amateurs--and train its actors and executive staff to a superlative degree along that single line, it has wisely chosen another course; preferring rather to take the risk of new ventures than fall into an artistic rut. And the possible lack of technical polish is balanced by the variety of its activity.
Its present play is a pleasant, artificial comedy; in as direct contrast as possible to the tragically philosophical "Life of Man." The purpose here is not to challenge mental passiveness or experiment with the audience's sensibilities, but simply and solely to amuse--a purpose in which it is successful.
There is nothing distinctive in the play either from a literary or a dramatic point of view. But for that very reason the Club has proved its sanity in refusing to regard itself perpetually as a theatrical laboratory; and its usefulness in providing enjoyable light entertainment.
Atmosphere is not Overdone
The settings, lighting, and costumes are, as usual, very good. They are needed in this case to furnish the gilt frame for the picture, and they do their work naturally and unobtrusively. The stage manager is to be congratulated on his good sense in not trying to force "atmosphere" in the shape of a doubtful gondola or some such operatic bugbear, but in allowing the picturesque serenade group alone to set the proper mood.
Several of Actors do Good Work
The actors are given a harder task. It is not easy to be a clever, animated picture, even with a gilt frame for adornment and it is, on the whole, rather surprising that they seem as human as they do. Beyond a doubt the reason for this lies in the skill of Collier, Burrell, Sanchez, and of Miss Googins. Collier especially, in gesture and intonation, carries into the part of the liar a vivacity and sang-froid that saves several dull scenes and heightens them all--a performance ably abetted by Burrell's lesser role. The Club will lose a great deal when these two cease to act in its plays. But it has made a "find" in Sanchez. "Excellent" is the only word to describe his playing of the clown; for he has both animation and, what is far more rare, a humorous restraint that leaves the spectator watching with keen anticipation for his entrances. Miss Googins has the most stilted role with which I have ever seen her burdened; but I was not surprised to find that she always contrived to keep it from even an approach to woodenness. The rest of the cast lacks in great measure the power to speak clearly or act convincingly.
All in all, "The Liar" will offend none, and will please many. It is for the most part delicately and artistically done, and is certainly worthy of its place in the annals of the Dramatic Club