OLD WINE--NEW BOTTLES DICKENS AS IS
A Treat at the Majestic for Those Who Do and Those Who Don't Know Their Pickwick.
When one considers what "Pickwick" might have been one is moved to arise and give-loud and prolonged hosannas to its producers. True, the play in itself is a none too inspired dramatization of scenes from "The Pickwick Papers", but it is blessed with what the billboards advertise--and for once correctly--as "a cast that Dickens himself would have chosen". The first night audience, harboring ominous misgivings as to a twentieth century Pickwick, burst into relieved applause when the curtain rose on the excellent representation of the court of the White Hart Inn, and kept applauding as it saw Sam Weller, boots in hand, in amorous discourse with Betsy, the chambermaid. And Sam and Betsy proved to be no less accurately recreated than the other characters who form the genial frame to the Pickwick Club.
The critical may object to "Pickwick" because it has no plot--but it has as much plot as a revue and ten times the humor. Moreover, the imposing array of Wardles, Wellers, and Dickensonian whatnots, compensate for any lack of structure. "The Pickwick Papers" had no definite plot; to have invented one for its dramatic counterpart would have been to lose much of the spirit of the original.
This cast has been carefully selected by Mr. Frank Reilly whom the program also credits with the imposing task of collaborating on, producing, and costuming the play, and it more than justifies its choice. The very attitudes and gestures are reminiscent of the Phiz illustrations. Particular laurels and bays are due to Mr. Cumberland for a fine, well-rounded Pickwick; to Mr. McNaughton for his tireless Sam Weller, a rich part richly played; and to Mr. Miller for his melodramatic Alfred Jingle. The ladies are adequate and pleasant to look upon, but are necessarly subordinated to the gallant masculinity of the Pickwick Club. It is a man's evening and above all it is Mr. Dickens' evening.