The Monday night opening of "Kicked Upstairs" was handicapped by its upstairs audience. The psychological uneasiness of empty seats in the first balcony was not too neatly, and rather belatedly, ameliorated by the arrival of ticketless sidewalk patrons. Their unresponsiveness was distinctly formulated in a loud burp which marred the clever pantomime of the first scene.
Ernest Cossart capably handles the weighty, but not meaty, part of Pusey, an omnipresent butler who is equal to everything but the attribute of paternal self-sacrifice imposed on him in the last scene. Joel Asheley's characterization of an actor in the red and a painter in the pink is over-boyish and too awkward. Vicki Cummings, as "Penny" not only wears exciting clothes well (her first appearance in a shimmering strapless almost brought down the first balcony) but carries off her gay grass-widow's role with a deft touch of cosmopolitan hauteur. Ellanora Reeves is attractively convincing, and shares honors with Miss Cummings for excellent feminine support. As apartment-landlord, Rolfe Sedan's distraught flutterings are superb.
"Kicked Upstairs" is not a hit, nor will it be when and if the first act is improved so that the actors take over the play more smoothly and speedily. The attempt to exalt Pusey to the sacrificial pedestal, and perhaps to develop a theme of "blood will tell" is unsuccessful and out of place. But if the management could close off the first and second balconies, "Kicked Upstairs" might furnish an orchestral full house with an inane and entertaining evening.