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Jane Cowl's latest offering at the Willbur presents itself as one of the best theatrical offerings now playing in Boston. Miss Cowl enters into the spirit of this charmingly vivacious comedy with a whole heart and she is well supported by an adequate east; especially Loon Quartermaine in the part of Malvolio. Added to this, the settings by Raymond Sovey are unusually clever and beautiful. The text is practically complete and the musical arrangement by Macklyn Marrow completes a good production.
The first act began very well, but unfortunately a lack of spirit left some of the hilarious possibilities of Shakespeare's comedy untouched. The whole business was carried off well enough, but the joie de vivre necessary for the superlative was lacking. This discrepancy was in all probability owing to the slightly flat antics of Walter Kingsford as Sir Toby Beich and Arthur Hohl's Sir Andrew Aguecheek. For some reason or another they failed to make their foolery convincing.
Happily, the second act was much better. Miss Cowl as Viola strode about very bravely, and even if she did wave her hands about with her usual abandon, she was very pleasant. It is true that she was a thoroughly feminine Cesario, but she is so accomplished an actress that the distortion was unnoticed. Maria as played by Jessie Ralph was happily an oldish and slightly vulgar wench, and hence a very fitting companion for the raucous Sir Toby.
One of the minor refinements salubriously included in this production was a softening of the very sudden affection of Sebastian for the lovely Olivia. The picture of Olivia given to Viola is left upon a bench by that dissembling young lady from whence it is picked up by Sebastian and immediately the beauty of that lady (Olivia) arouses obvious amorous feelings. After this display of sighs and the attending languishing looks, what follows does not seem quite so impossible.
The very merry conclusion is done in the usual vivacious manner, and after Feste's brief song, the book is closed upon an evening that was thoroughly entertaining at least.
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