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"Not So Long Ago," now playing at the Plymouth Theatre, a comedy combining a human note with delightful humor and delicate romance, is one of the very bright spots in an otherwise rather dull season. It is a spontaneous, natural comedy which is universal in its appeal to every type of theatre-goer.
The play is well written and well constructed, and the action moves so freely and rapidly that the interest of the audience does not lag for an instant. It is uncommon to find a cast with no weak point, but the acting in "Not So Long Ago" is universally excellent.
The comedy has a real plot, which is unusual in plays of this character, and the semi-historical background adds a touch of reality. There is a strong tendency in modern romantic plays to overdo the sentimental element, but Arthur Richman has overcome this by introducing a spicy antidote of humor at any point where the romantic is a little too saccharine.
The story is of a pretty young girl, Elsie Dover, who inherits her mother's, romance and her father's inventive powers. In order to escape the advances of the conceited Sam Robinson she invents a romance with Billy Ballard, at the house of whose mother she does sewing. Disturbed at the attention which "the rich young man" is paying to his daughter, Mr. Dover goes direct to Billy, who, although somewhat surprised, does not give away Elsie's plan.
The wily Sam, however, unwilling to have his sweet-heart taken from him, informs Mrs. Ballard of the budding romance, and she forbids Elsie to see Billy again. So Elsie creates a romance with an imaginary "Ronald," with which she dismisses Billy "forever."
This unfortunate state of affairs is accidentally straightened out by Sam, who, unconscious that he is thwarting his own purpose reveals to Billy the imaginary character of "Ronald."
Eva Le Gallienne makes a very attractive "Elsie," and gives an extremely human characterization of the romantic, imaginative young girl. Sidney Blackmer, as Billy Ballard, shows vividly this temperamental youth in his depressed and jubilant moods. Mary Kennedy, who takes the part of Rosamond Gill, Billy's former sweet-heart, is especially capable, and all the other parts are ably filled.
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