At Sanders Theatre
T. E. Eliot's "The Family Reunion," probably the most courageous experiment ever undertaken by the Harvard Dramatic Club, should prove both a revelation and gratification for those attending its production tonight and tomorrow night at Sanders Theatre. It will be a revelation for those who think they have seen everything on the stage; a gratification for those who have read Mr. Eliot's work and failed to be touched by the depth of his message. For "The Family Reunion" is guaranteed to be totally unlike anything in your experience of drama, and if last night's dress rehearsal may be relied upon as a guide, the Dramatic club is to be congratulated for the understanding clarity of its interpretation.
In Mr. Eliot's verse play the Dramatic club has found an excellent subject for the inauguration of its new four-production-a-year program, which allows of a broader choice and increased opportunity to present works not seen on the conventional and commercialized stage. "The Family Reunion" is a resolution in modern form of the pagan, classical theme of the curse of the Eumenides through the Christian ideas of expiation and purgation. Harry, Lord Monchensey, is fated to bear the curse placed upon his family for the sins of his ancestors. His flight from the three Eumenides who represent the curse leads him at last to the family reunion arranged by his mother at the Monchensey estate. He is bewildered, baffled by his own lack of understanding and the blindness to his troubles of all his humdrum relations. It is only with the help of his Aunt Agatha's insight, gained through her experience with the curse in its impact upon his father, that he realizes the Eumenides are only his own conscience and he must pursue them, must make his life a pilgrimage of expiation, instead of forever fleeing.
This is a rather stiff exercise in metaphysics, hardly rendered easier of comprehension by the relatively abstract blank-verse form of dialogue. For full appreciation, it makes substantial demands upon the concentration of the audience. The measure of the Dramatic Club's success is to be seen in the degree to which they have made these demands reasonable for the average audience and have rewarded the attention of the audience. Their remarkable success in so doing reveals much ingenuity, talent and plain hard work. Ingenuity is displayed in the arrangement of the stage and effectiveness of the setting designed by Art Director John Holabird:--a setting of heavy dark drapes of stiff Victorian furniture and antique silver, which adds much to the impressive atmosphere of the production. Talent and hard work alike show in the efforts of the entire cast. Particularly outstanding are Florence Brown in her aristocratic and foreboding characterization of the Dowager Lady Monchensey; and William Manson in his own convincing interpretation of the conscience-tortured Lord Monchensey. Priscilla Freeman plays a somber and other-wordly figure as Aunt Agatha that will send chills down your spine.
"The Family Reunion" is student-produced in its entirety. It is directed, staged and acted entirely by students. Even the overture and chorus-accompaniment were originally composed and are played with heightening effect by Allen Sapp '43. In atending the Dramatic Club's work you will be supporting and encouraging the efforts of these enterprising young artists--and will be affording yourself a rare experience in theatre which is guaranteed not to disappoint.