"A BRIDGE FOR THE UNICORN" Brattle Hall
In one respect, at least, this must be considered the most significant play presented at Harvard for many a year. An amateur production which can boast among its designers Virgil Thomson, collaborator with Gertrude Stein in that lady's only opera, and Joe Losey, director of "Lil' Ole Boy," is rare indeed. But the consideration of these facts must make the critical judgment of the effort more searching than would otherwise be the case. In respect to theme, "A Bride for the Unicorn" cannot be considered as more than a competent synthesis of a group of philosophical and aesthetic conceptions which have been in circulation at a conservative estimate, for fifteen years.
The plot is manifold. Its principal current centers about the life and emotions of a sensitive, but in the main, ordinary man, with the life of a sample -- an ineffectual sample -- of humanity. Subsidiary to the development of this idea are three minor threads: a choral rendition of the epic of the Argonauts, obviously designed to emphasize the ultimate continuity of the chief functions of life: a train of satirically treated episodes of everyday life, and the intermittent presentation of personifications of those influences which have played a major part in forming the character of the hero. This is not in keeping with the originally which, we are given to understand, is the distinguishing feature of the modern drams. Indeed --profanity of profanities--there seems to be a distinct echo of the Cabellian titers here and there; witness the title of one of the scenes: "The High Gestes of Hercules."
The principal character is given as much reality as the author allows by Mr. Norman Lloyd, whose interpretation of a difficult part leaves nothing to be desired, unless it be a coherence. His habit of addressing his remarks exclusively to his boutonnier considerably diminishes the effect of his fine acting.
Miss Elinor Edson, as the prototype of Everyman's wife, gives an intelligent an extraordinary sensitive performance. She might also be termed beautiful.
Robert L. McKee '37, in the character of "Percy the Prosperous," refrains from overacting in a part the satiric intention of which the author has spared no pains to underline. "Egbert the Eccentric" -- as the program will have it, Paul Killiam '37 -- is excellently cast as a gentlemen whose chief recreation consists in "fishing for flasks warmed on fat haunches." His retiring appearance gives the part a freshness which, we four, was not present in the original script. And Thomas Ratcliffe, as a crusty man of affairs, and then a model barrister, showed a talent out of proportion to the minor parts in which he was cast. John Cromwell, as "the Drunk Swell" gives a most capable performance.
As an indication of the vitality of the drama at Harvard this production is much to be admired. And if we see in it certain reminders of other admirable works of art we need not allow ourselves to be prejudiced against the spirit of which it is the token.