Milne's magic delicacy runs elusively through "The Truth about Blayds", which Boston is seeing for the first time at the Copley this week. There is none of the near-burlesque of the "Dover Road", and no such whimsy as in "Mr. Pim", but here is a hint of something growing in the young Englishman's art: he is holding his own fascinating traits, and picking up power and sincerity to add to them. In this play he touches upon a problem, and while he refuses to come to grips with it, he approaches near enough to size it up pretty thoroughly. The problem is that of post-mortem honor-consideration for the dues of the dead, and how far they should affect the dues of the living. But the problem is not the play; the characters make that, and the gently ironical situations.
Nothing may be said of the plot, for it hinges on the "truth", and the truth must not be told. Mr. Wingfield, as the "veteran poet" celebrating his ninetieth birthday with his adulous family and honored guest, does the best acting that has been seen on the Copley stage, or perhaps any Boston stage, this season, His shy pride, his innocent reminiscing, have the assurance of the genuine "literary lion." The role is a difficult one, for it involves a double pose-but there, again, we are dangerously near the "truth." Mr. Clive has become a meticulous Boswell to this poet, and has taken on the very mannerisms of a Vietorian "social secretary." As his wife, Miss Belmore shows just enough motherly affection. Mr. Tearle and the young people are as Milne meant them to be, which is the right way. Miss Newcombe has her own ideas about the part of the self-sacrificing daughter, and though she plays with an admirable consistency and charm, one feels a lack of heart in her playing.
There are subtle touches in this play which surpass all that one has come to expect of Milne, and there is a deeper sincerity. It is less laughable than some of his others, but more penetrating, and so more permanently enjoyable.