The atmosphere at the St. James on Monday night was a perfect one in which to produce "Icebound". Though several logs were thrown on the fire at frequent intervals., the effect was not apparent. Indeed, the characters often showed a need for warmth on the stage, and certainly the Jordan family, with which the play deals, could stand a good deal of thawing out.
The curtain discovers the Jordans sitting in the parlor waiting for mother to die and hoping, each for self, that mother's money will be left practically intact to the heir hoping, Mother, with the usual idiosyncracy of a dying person, leaves the money to the least appreciated of the poor relations. But with the money Jane, the heir, also inherits the mother's wish that she reform Ben, the youngest son, and marry him so that he may have some of the capital. Ben, it seems, burned a barn in his early youth and has not been seen until the hour of mother's death. These are the basic entanglements. Then Jane plays the Samaritan. She keeps Ben out of jail, pays Henry's rent, and buys Orrin a pair of skates. In return for this she is tolerated. Several rifts in the course of true love occur.
Mark Kent, Jill Middleton, and Joseph Leo do the best acting of the evening. Walter Gilbert, as Ben, is rather too polished. He is not at his best as a man from the wide open spaces, who shows his virility by wearing a rather good suit, the trousers of which he has tucked into shiny new overshoes.
These are rather trite.
The play is by Owen Davis and was awarded the Pullizer prize for 1923. It shows admirably a certain side of the old, hidebound New England stock. But we refuse to recognize the mean and small souled characters as they are presented. There is another side that Mr. Davis has left off stage.