The Crimson Playgoer
Leslie Howard, Transplanted into 18th Century Provides Moments of Dramatic Tenseness
After a long and successful run in New York and London "Berkeley Square" has at last come to Boston to provide a very excellent evening's entertainment. For sheer dramatic pleasure this play is by far the best offering to be seen here at the present time. The honors are equally divided between Mr. Leslie Howard and Mr. John Balderston, the author; although the various other features such as the supporting cast and the settings are safely above the average.
The plot has to do with the difficulties of one who suddenly finds himself transplanted from the present into the Eighteenth century. A charming old house in Berkley Square with its glamorous traditions of lovely ladies and powdered wigs forms the background in which the half-forgotten specters of the past are brought once more to life. Peter Standish, Leslie Howard, a man of the present with an Eighteenth century counter-part is enchanted by the historic flavor of the past with its sedan chairs and coaches, but when he finds himself immersed in the actualities that went along with this former charm he realizes that went along with this former charm he realizes that the present has a compensation of comfort that is even more attractive than half remembered antique beauties.
The major complications arise from the fact that the past can not be changed. In spite of his love for a certain Miss Helen Pettigrew, Margalo Gilmore, he realizes that he is destined to marry her sister, for that is how it has happened. The humor and dramatic tenseness that arises from the futility of the situation are the main virtues of the play. The author has realized the force of climax and situation and every scene closes with a subtle gesture that completely wins the audience. At the juncture at which the Twentieth century Peter Standish arrives, the stage is darkened, the door opens and a shaft of light reveals the very beautiful Kate Pettigrew, Louise Pressing, sweeping into a superb curtsie to greet her betrothed just as the curtain falls. It is a succession of moments like this that makes "Berkeley Square" so thoroughly entertaining.
The author makes a very convincing play out of the incongruous reconciliation of the past and present, and the immutability of deeds that have been done before. He weaves these two themes together so skillfully that the impossibility of the situation never once mars the play. And Mr. Howard plays his part with such ease and understanding that one is carried along as if in the train of natural events. Of course it is thoroughly amusing and pleasant.