The producers of "All the Kings Men," which had its first appearance on the boards of the Hollis Street Theatre last night, did well to call it a "comedy drama." For that is just what it is, Believing, no doubt, the truth of the theory that at the theatre one never laughs so heartily as when one has just stared into the half-revealed face of tragedy, Mr. Oursler, the playwright, has attempted to strike the delicate line between straight comedy and unadulterated drama, and has hit it so exactly that both words are necessary to describe the result.
Happily, the play does not at the same time sink into the sloughs which is the grave of so many who strive to tread the tremendous and slippery path of the golden mean. Whether this is due alone to the quality of the acting which lifts the audience safely over the soft places, it is difficult to say. Enough that the fact remains that the work of the small cast of five is practically without exception excellent.
It is difficult, indeed, to single out any individual as being particularly outstanding. Grant Mitchell, in the role of Walter Fairchild, the advertising man around the results of whose second marriage the plot turns, gives, perhaps, a greater appearance of absolute naturalness, than any of the others. As an example of the solid citizen, not very intellectual but with a certain amount of native wit, kind-hearted and at times understanding to a degree which surprises one without it being improbable, the presentation is excellent. Mayo Methot as Florence Wendell--later Mrs. Fairchild--is scarcely less good, and, moreover, is exceptionally lovely to look at. And Mrs. Jacques Martin as the old nurse and general factotum around the apartment supplies much of the humor, and does it very acceptably.
In brief, "All the King's Men" is a play, excellently presented, which while it does not make its audience reach for the handkerchief to wipe away tears either of sympathy or of laughter, nevertheless supplies just enough of both comedy and charm to keep each fresh, and afford at the same time a very pleasant evening's entertainment.