Opening at the Shubert this evening is a play which needs no introduction; in it is a great American actress in her greatest role, namely, Helen Hayes in "Victoria Regina." The production came to Boston last season, ran endlessly in New York and points West, and has established itself as a play all lovers of the theatre should consider it their bounden duty to attend.
The story deals with the private life of Victoria the woman rather than with the public acts of Victoria the Queen; it consists of ten scenes showing her as the young girl, the possessive wife, and the bereaved widow. Notable is the fact that, although many of the greatest personages of the period pass in review, save for the characters of Prince Albert and Victoria herself, few of them appear on the stage for more than a single scene; yet their contribution to the leading roles is invaluable and their impression on the audience lasting.
For instance, John Brown, the faithful Scotsman, as played by James Gibson, not only helps to depict a new development in Victoria's character, but also emerges as a man whose wisdom is sprung from many years of contact with the soil. If Ernest Clark, moreover, as Albert's brother, Ernest, was not so completely a provincial German prig, Werner Bateman's portrayal of Albert would lack the all-important sympathy of the audience. Disraeli, Lord Conyngham, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Melbourne, and the gay Lady Jane are some of those who have their brief but impressive moments on the stage.
Laurence Housman has written a great chronicle drama, and Miss Hayes' performance has been widely and justly acclaimed; the combination should not be missed, and a second or a third visit will not go unrewarded. V. F., Jr.