"Ripping, old dear", if you are an Englishman, or "It's a knock-out, kid", if you are a heathen American, will be your verdict for "So This is London" which is being presented this week at the St. James Theatre. You will certainly agree that The Boston Stock Company, in choosing this play of Arthur Goodrich, has revived a spirited middle-class comedy of the better sort.
Play Based on Folly of Prejudices
American prejudices against the "Bally English" in conflict with English misconceptions of "boorish Americans" furnish the central Tenma. With a strange mixture of sympathetic concern and amusement the author views those absurd ideas that Americans have of England and the equally warped opinions that the English hold of America and its "natives". It is the old idea of the folly of prejudices. Perhaps this is why the author employs a conventional plot and technique and stock characters.
International Business and Pleasure
A love affair is quite naturally well under way in the opening scene. The brilliant young man in the case has for a father a successful American shoe-manufacturer, who had "breezed over" to England "just for pleasure, absolutely". Incidentally he plans to buy out his largest English competitor, who happens to be, Sir Beauchamp, the father of "the girl". Unfortunately, you see, he, too, has sullied his hands in "trade". The violent prejudices of the old people threaten to spoil "the ideal" and the "affair" of the young people as well; but the generous and sympathetic intervention of Lady Beauchamp, who is American-made, and the "chip of the old block" pep and head-work of "the clever young American" insure an amicable result. Here it is that the author proves that the appellation "Bull" is not one of the inalienable rights of English men, but can be equally well applied to an American Sam or Hiram, Strained relations, vehement protestations, and misunderstandings follow; but somehow both deals are completed and the Englishman shows that he's "a sport" and the American that he isn't "a blooming rotter", for "heads on the coin" says that "they are to be married in England".
Actors Appear Before Curtain
Clever dropped-curtain-speculations as to the prospective "in-laws", as told by the head of each family, furnished the one new piece of technique in the play. The appearance of the English family on the front of the stage, preparatory to their entrance to Col. Draper's suite, puzzled the unsophisticated members of the audience, but, once the idea had penetrated, they chuckled for the rest of the performance.
Houston Richards featured "Young America" and his "can't-stop-me-kid attitude." He was out-shone, however, by Herbert Heyes, who, as Draper Sr., really put the play across. He enjoyed the part; and he interpreted the character so well that he made the audience enjoy it. Lucille Adams was the twentieth century English girl. Olive Blakekeny and Anna Layng also merited the hearty commendation of the audience. Every member of the cast, indeed, contributed a part toward the success of the satire. Hector and his orchestra attracted the usual "early audience," and their entreacte selections were particularly enjoyable.
As Usual, Love Conquers All
"So This Is London" presents a problem. The author points out existing prejudices, the scramble for wealth, and big-business for the love of the game. He both bemoans and enjoys these conditions. No doubt he has a real sympathetic interest in the question. He sees the pathos of the situation; yet the flatters the audience into believing that there is an easy solution and a happy ending: that Love conquers all. The satire is pleasant and humorous, even if at times it is laid on rather heavily. At the end, however, we may say with the Englishman, "Yes, here we are. But,--where are we?"