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The opening of the Robert Williams stock company at the Plymouth theatre Monday night with the "Criminal Code" was not particularly auspicious. The play itself was good enough and the mechanics of the production were also thoroughly adequate. The acting, however, was distinctly inferior. There were none of the subtleties or refinements that distinguish the artistic from the dull and obvious. And when it comes to being obvious this particular company is even ostentatious.
In a play in which the more or less delicate psychological reactions of the human being are served up for a theatre audience, it is natural to expect the restrained sort of acting. Instead of this, the Robert Williams Players refused to confine themselves to suggestion; and abandoned themselves instead to exaggeration with the result that the finesse of the play was lost in caractures that would be more fitting in a Middle Western production of "Uncle Tom's Cabin".
These faults were most noticable in Lysle Talbot as Robert Graham, the wronged boy, and Messers Clarenodn and Shields, prison authorities. William Ingersoll and Thais Lawton, Warden and daughter respectively, were adequate, although the latter came to grief in the last act with a bit of weeping a la spasm. John Junior, a doctor, probably gave the best performance, although he appeared very infrequently.
This play is the first of a series of more or less proven, successful plays which this organization will produce for the next few months in Boston. Their selection is good enough, and if it is possible for them to improve the quality of the acting, they may accomplish the impossible and give Boston a really interesting season. The present bit of histrionics, however, need considerable revision.
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