Two beards, a megalomaniac, a religious fanatic who places propaganda stickers on hats and windows, a great actress, a press agent, Christus and Judas from Murenberg, a business man and his secretary seeking a quiet nook for illicit love; such is the assortment on the Twentieth Century going from Chicago to New York. Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht, the authors of "Twentieth Century," have no doubt, been influenced by Grand Hotel; the scene of action jerks back and forth from compartment to compartment giving us an illusion of what happens on trains while we snore peacefully.
What pleased me the other night more than the amusing play was the histrionic ability of The Stagers who perform in the unpretentious Peabody Playhouse. Francis Cleveland, who is the emotional and egotistical actor, Oscar Jaffe, is convincing as a paranoiac; Harriet Helm has enough charm, poise and intelligence to make the least plausible character seem real. The rest of the cast was equally excellent.
Although "Twentieth Century" is, without doubt, the only worthwhile play in Boston this week, playgoers seem to have an aversion to visiting a relatively unknown theatre and are afraid that The Stagers are just another stock company. So that you do not remain one of the deluded, I shall say that the Peabody Playhouse is small, but with excellent acoustics, and that The Stagers are a talented group, merely waiting for a sudden regeneration of the theatre.