Theatre Guild Offers Folk Play by One Lynn Riggs Concerning the Cowboy Days
The Theatre Guild has collected seven pretty girls, a gang of cowboys, some border ballads, and a good many dirty jokes, which it has woven into a play that is called, for want of anything better, "Green Grow The Lilacs." When all this was done a plot involving a swash-buckling cowhand, a shy young maiden, and a villian whose hands dripped with the blood of past crimes, was added for the sake of convention. The result is supposed to represent the Indian Territory of 1900.
It is a pretty shoddy production. The ponderous vulgarity of Lynn Riggs is unrelieved by any really good acting, and the dialogue is drab and interminable. Anyone who goes to the movies knows the plot. After a painfully long time the villian lies dead by his own uncalculating hands and the hero and heroine are safe in a bedroom. Something of the same idea has been used before.
The individual scenes are little better. The Riggs lines are too verbose and bromidic to warrant their prolonged duration. It takes June Walker about twenty-five minutes of audible self examination to discover that she really is in love with her cowboy, when the audience knew about it all along. As a rule there is nothing offensive about the play, it's just dull; but there is one scene which is inexcusable. Riggs, in his search for realism, paints with a broad brush. It's an old western custom to give a chivivari to an engaged couple. In accordance with tradition Miss Walker, in a night gown, together with her betrothed, is placed upon a haystack to endure with the audience ten minutes of as vulgar wise-cracking as Boston has ever heard. It is not funny or even cleverly risque; it is just downright smutty.
To find Miss Walker playing the ingenne is a surprise, but she does the conventional part about as well as anyone could. James Patterson, her lover, without much previous experience, is good enough for two acts, but he falters in the finale when he gets his first real chance. Richard Hale plays the bad man with extreme unction. There is a chorus that hums throughout the cornfields and cheers the cowboys at their crap game. They are hard to explain, but they sing well enough and are pleasant to watch when the interest sags.