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For several years Madge Kennedy has been one of the most successful liars on the American stage and the excellence of her performance as the adorable liar in "Love in a Mist," current at the New Park, is a surprise to none of her critics. With remarkable skill she has maintained the fiction that she is a young and beautiful girl, and once again she prevails upon an audience willing to be gulled.
The play is entirely Miss Kennedy and Sidney Blackmer, and not at all the work of its authors, Princess Troubetzkoy and Gilbert Emery, who seem to have loaned it little except their names. To be sure, there is a professional smoothness about the book of the play, an assurance which borders on insouciance; and the air of boredom with which the authors play on the easily tuned instrument of the public galls even the thick-skinned among Boston playgoers. There is an assumption that the playwrights know what the public swallows alive and buys wholesale, a dangerous assumption.
It requires the careful ministrations of three capable principals to save the authors' bacon from the fire of public disapproval, and the principals cook to the queen's taste. The methods of the three are in great contrast. Miss Kennedy depends upon her ability as an actress; she is constantly alert from beginning to end, with never a gesture too many, and never a quarter note too high, so far as she can see. Sidney Blackmer, as Gregory Farnham, the American lover, twice entangled by engagements, employs the easy, off-stage air which distinguishes Roland Young. There is too much, physically, to Mr. Blackmer to permit of the same ease of manner owned by Mr. Young, but the method satisfies. Count Scipione Varelli, played by Jack Willard, bursts upon the scene with great waving of hands and mouthing of Italian oaths, and the fireworks are on.
Of plot there is so little that the play might readily have been run as a musical comedy, with infinite gain in speed and box-office receipts. Lie follows lie in the most amazing succession, so that even the most-cynical of males would be sated, and turn trustingly to his companion. "No woman could lie like that." Yet, despite the never ending procession of lies the play palls during the second act, palls indeed until The-Shot-Outside. No audience can resist The-Shot-Outside.
It is a trivial vehicle, reinforced by capable support from the actors; there is no high level of credibility, and the lines are not sparkling. Accept it as a play of situation, and recognize that no mental effort is necessary. Take your Princeton friends, they'll like it, even if they pan the Southern accent of the cast.
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