Although gales of laughter greeted the Boston Stock Company's presentation of "The Whole Town's Talking" at the St. James Theatre on Monday night, I in my humble nothingness failed to be swept along on the boisterous tide. Now I am not blase nor have I anything against the management. On the contrary it seems only proper to say that if you go, you may possibly enjoy yourself thoroughly. If, however, you remember Grant Mitchell in the same production you will feel just as lonely as I did on Monday night. There was something lacking.
In the first place, unlike most farces, clever lines are notable because of their absence. Now this is as it should be, since there are enough clever situations in the play to sink any ship in spasms of laughter. Situations, however, require extremely clever acting, which mean that they don't require over-acting. Except in two or three cases over-acting was the fly in the ointment of the St. James Company. Had the various parts been played with a little more subtlety and finesse, had there been less self-conscious attempts at loud-mouthed humor, the play would have been immensely better.
Miss Elsie Hitz, as Ethel Simmons, one of Sandusky's fairest females, gave far and away the best performance of the evening. She played her part to perfection. She was always natural and at or case. Louis Leon Hall, as her father, was also very good. Bernard No tell as Chester Binney, emulated Grand Mitchell with fair success, although one always felt that he was constantly striving for effect. Perhaps the most glaring example of forced and unnatural humor was Ralph Remley, who took the part of James the butler in a ludicrous fashion. Although she had but a few lines, Miss Roberta Lee Clark as Sadie Bloom, gave a very delightful and clever, interpretation of "the girl of the taxicab." She did her bit as well as anyone.
However, in spite of these discrepancies, the performance is sufficiently enjoyable to warrant an attendance. My chief complaint is that it is only about half as good as it should be, but even at that it is more enjoyable than many of the regular run of weekly presentations.