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Whatever else may be said of it, "Dealing in Futures" is distinctly up to date. Rosie Thompson leads her dance off the stage at the close of the play with the observation: "Have you forgotten that we're going to be married on April 25th? Come along, Charlie!" But it has taken her a long time to persuade Charlie that he should marry her at all. The whole performance is a working out of the problem whether this extraordinary young man whose "life is too full to marry" will be convinced of the error of his ways, or whether he will go on trying to reform the world.
Harold West, as Charlie Bunting, makes the most of a very difficult part. In this, his second appearance with the Copley Players, he impersonates a "red-blooded idealist" with a remarkable success, combining all the gifts of a modern chemist with those of a William Jennings Bryan. He is an orator par excellence, but he goes back to his chemical experiments at the end, as by far the less dangerous of the two. And he gets a wife into the bargain.
Philip Longe, as Walter Clavering, a young doctor very much satisfied with himself, makes his first appearance with the company, and the fact that, he does not make a greater impression is due largely to the role which he takes.
But, when all is said, Clive, as an astute but kindly Lancashire factory owner, is the main-spring of what would otherwise be an unreal and rather heavy problem play. He is an elderly man whose motto has been "have a good time", and who has lived up to it; and whose "religion is a respectable pastime for Sundays". He is the embodiment of common sense, the foil to his rebellious protege, Charlie, and the saving grace of the performance. He is supreme in all business affairs, but, like most great men, he has one weakness--his daughter, Rosie. Her character, as portrayed by Catherine Willard, is a contrast between the self-willed rich girl and the "bloomin' angel" who plays Santa Claus to all her father's down trodden employees.
But after all, the play is not merely a collection of character sketches. It is a fundamentally moral dissertation to prove that the world cannot be reformed overnight, and that common sense can usually conquer pure idealism. It is serious, emotional, dramatic, interesting. Perhaps it is too serious and too emotional--there is rather too much oratory, and the sentiment is a little too obvious. The author, like his hero, seems too much imbued with the spirit of romanticism to suit this twentieth century taste; but he does well in spite of his defects, and the acting carries the whole through to a happy conclusion.
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