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When you see your first war play in several years, two points are driven home in short order. The first is that the tears, the significant remarks and so on do not ring true, and the other is that the humor isn't half as bad as you used to think it was when you were deluged with it some years back.
In his current piece, "The War Song", George Jessel has tried to put over just one more play touching the recent unpleasantness. It gets off to a slow start and the first act is rather tiring, though from time to time the explosion of a good gag recharges the air. Eddie, the little East Side song plugger is drafted and-runs off to Armentieres, but that basic development takes almost an hour. There is of course, his sister's boy friend whom he distrusts, who he later finds ain't done right by her, and whom he chances to meet again in a shell hole.
The second and last acts are considerably better. The camp at Yaphank, Long Island is amusingly portrayed and the usual soldier cracks go off with unexpected success. The scenes "over there" are short, and after being captured in a shell hole, our hero ends up in a German dugout. He is just about to be executed when the Armistice is announced.
There you have just about all the hokum ever used in plays about the war. Some of it falls pretty flat, too, but it is surprising how in the last two acts it manages to keep the play above water. Now and then Mr. Jessel breaks into song, and though the songs aren't much he carries them off.
Generally speaking it could be quite a lot worse, and yet you won't come away over-enthusiastic. The war theme has lain quiet just long enough for it to be hauled forth with moderate success. But just this once; the next time we'll all walk out.
There is very little acting, it being mostly a matter of getting lines off. For this reason the only people deserving of mention are Mr. Jessel upon whom most of the play depends and Clara Langsner as his mother, who does more than just go through the paces.
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