"The Road to Rome", has, somewhat metaphorically speaking, a fork in it. Now that we have actually seen the play, it has become clear that Mr. Sherwood, the author of the present production at the Wilbur, had from the motive of his story two opportunities before him. Either he might indulge himself in purely" semi-farcical satire on modern conditions or he might on the other hand write a truly great tragedy. He seems to have tried to do both, and succeeded in doing each one only by half.
For the dramatic purist this is no doubt a fault; but for him who goes to the theatre primarily for the purpose of enjoying himself and relieving his examination-troubled spirit, it turns out to be a virtue. For while the first half of "The Road to Rome" leads through a pleasant landscape of hundred percent Roman-American rotarianism, by the end of the second milestone it has entered into the realm of true dramatic tragedy, enlivened here and there with sparkling and often rather caustic wit--which is quite as it should be. And in keeping with the subject, the scenery and staging is magnificent.
Scenery, staging and the dialogue--which is supreme--would, however, lose much of their attraction were it not for the presence of Jane Cowl in the leading role of Amytis. It is she who carries the play along with a finesse and verve which cannot help to instill enthusiasm even into a Boston audience. Nor is she ill supported. Richie Ling as Fabius Maximus portrays the typical hundred percent patriot with both feet planted with all the weight of his 200 odd pounds firmly on the ground. The silent thoughtful rather introspective Hannibal is perfectly presented by Philip Merivale. And as much might be said for almost all the rest of the cast. In fact so much has been said about "The Road to Rome" already, that little remains but to remark that we do not always have equally good plays with us.