If you have ever wondered about that insanity peculiar to the American people that is called sometimes normalcy and sometimes mediocrity, "The First Year," this week's offering at the St. James, will provide no cure but it will give that curious titillation that most invalids enjoy from reading a learned medical book.
For in this comedy, that is advertised as the "hit of the season," the symptoms of the infirmity are laid bare before the audience. Every detail of the eternal triangle, of love in the Middle West, of hideous interior furnishings, of efficient business methods, of small-town family life, is ready for you if you are suffering from the disease. If, on the other hand, you are one of the sophisticates who shrug a shoulder at such things, you will probably find the play as effective a satire as "Main Street" or 'Beggar on Horseback." The only flaw in our enjoyment as such, was our horrid suspicion that Mr. Frank Craven wrote the play more for the enjoyment of the large crowd that so obviously did enjoy it, than for any purpose of poking fun at the way we moderns live our lives.
So equipped, the piece is prepared to satisfy everyone. You laugh boisterously at the love scene that is wrangled into existence by the heroine in a flood of the most scientific electric light, or you can smile with a graceful superiority, just as you wish. And be it noted that to bring about this double efficiency, the play has been handled well, both in the staging and the acting. The former department was the more notable in its success. The setting in the first scene should be preserved with the simple label, "Decadent American." The inevitable wedding presents, the array of "set" bindings in the book case, the daguerrotypes, everything fits perfectly into the general impression of the scrappy, patchy life a lot of us know too well.
Miss Hitz did well in the part of the young bride. The dinner party scene, when the cook fails to appear and inadvertently revealed business secrets slop about with poisonous cocktails, found her really seeming the worried young rewlywed she was supposed to be. At times one could imagine her writing to Beatrice Fairfax for advice