There is a great to do about a leg in the "Comedy of Good and Evil" at Brattle Hall tonight. Miriam Hurwitt, who gets a new leg, is greatly perturbed when it flies up unceremoniously into the faces of the visitors to her humble dwelling. And perturbation is scarcely a fitting word for the reactions of the unfortunate visitors.
In the opening scene of the play, Arthur Szathmary, a saintly rector, and his wife, Miriam Hurwitt, who has a woodenleg, are discussing the advantages and disadvantages of being visited with angels.
Lo, a sprite-like voice is heard outside, then a scream. At the door, lying unconscious, is what the audience will undoubtedly deem an angel, and certain it is she looks like an angel must look, Lois Hall. Unfortunately, she turns out to be a devil, and a most perplexing devil.
She has faith in the force of evil. She glories in her struggle against the overwhelming odds on the other side. In fact, her arguments are so convincing, her faith so positive, her struggle against the insidious forces of good so sincere, that she casts a doubt into the solid mind of the good rector. It has never occurred to him before that it is so possible for the positive good and the negative evil to be reversed. Szathmary is great as the sorely perplexed churchman.
In the next scene, the wooden leg of pious but ignorant Minnie has been replaced by real, flesh and blood leg through the intercession of the lovely little devil. The leg, through sometimes a perfectly obedient leg, is under the control of some mysterious power.
It begins to twitch and jerk and kick into the air in the most embarrassing manner at the most inopportune times.
The other members of the cast are uproarious as the Welsh villagers, eager to learn about the miracle. The proof is final when Mrs. Resurrection Jones. who broke up her own funeral by tapping at her con lid, feels the leg and learns to her own disappointment that it's not one of those china things.
After a year the rector has died. Then Robert McKee dominates a scene as the judging angel. The dialogue is magnificent, and magnificently read. We learn that in after life no such petty thing as justice is allowed to interfere with the course of the law.
There are three subtly hilarious dialogues to close out the play between the dainty little devil and the soul of the rector, the devil and the judging angel, and the devil and Minnie, with the blue-stockinged, red slippered appendage new well under control.
As a whole the play is delightful. We are happy to give it our first A plus. The Dramatic Club must be given credit for choosing so entertaining a vehicle, and for producing it so successfully.
Assuming the authority for making the choice, we unhesitatingly award the acting honors to Lois Hall.
There will doubtless be opposition to this. Miss Hurwitt and Stephen Greene both handle difficult roles exceedingly well. The fact that Miss Hurwitt sustained her dislect throughout the piece and handled her leg with consummate skill counted heavily in her favor, but Miss Hall dominated the production.
As usual, Mr. Szathmary's impecesble English enabled him to turn in an almost perfect performance. Robert McKee was sufficiently imbecile as a fishmonger, and awfully impressive as an angel. And Agnes Love, as Mrs. Resurrection Jones, was certainly all that could be asked