The first Boston performance of "Spite Corner", a rather conventional play in three acts by Frank Craven, was admirably handled by the St. James players. Although this week's piece deals with the usual scenes of country life, it is strangely enough, interestingly built and fairly void of the made-to-order villagers who usually are intended to typify the rural life. The Boston Stock Company does not portray theatre country-folk; but goes deeper and gives a sketch of typical country life. In fact, one is not once reminded of the slapstick country rube nor is the comic hired man nor the old skinflint, foiled by the gallantry of the brave hero, dragged painfully into the scenes. The plot, though simple and unimportant, is made interesting by the capable acting of the cast.
The story is that of an ancient rivalry between the two oldest and most prominent families of the village. The Deans, once wealthy and influential, have gradually lost their position, the Lattimers on the contrary have gained as the rivals lost, until now old Nathan Lattimer wishes to purchase the last bit of property which the Deans hold, to use for a modern business block. Elizabeth Dean refuses to be driven from her little millinery shop which serves also as a home. To develop complications she is betrothed to John, the unfaithful son and heir of old Lattimer. His efforts to win her love again enrage his father and apparently are doomed to failure.
There was just the proper touch of comedy in the acting, although the dialogues were wont to drag at times. The opening scene between Miss Roach and Miss Laying, two country spinsters, was thoroughly amusing, yet without exaggeration. Mr. Kent as Eben Gooch furnished an excellent bit of acting, with his dry humor, kindliness, and philosophy. Mr. Gilbert's part was not difficult and he handled it creditably, giving just the proper touch of nonchalance to his role. Miss Bushnell deserves special commendation, for the understanding way in which she portrayed the loving high-spirited, proud, spiteful Elizabeth Her lines--quite difficult in spots--were given in a truly effective manner.