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At the Colonial


The Finnish war evidently made Robert Sherwood a very angry man, and fortunately, a thoughtful one, too. "There Shall Be No Night" is the impressive result of his anger and his thought, plus a little slicking up in the best Broadway fashion. But even if the famous Lunt-Fontanne color is the ingredient that makes the show a hit, the play is still a remarkable job of dramatizing that explosive feeling most people get when they read about Finland.

The great Finnish scientist, Kaarlo Valkonen, played by Alfred Lunt, can see his home broken up in the war, his son killed, and his country going down in defeat, and still say that the booming of the guns is the death rattle, not of civilization, but of the forces of evil. He is a brain specialist, and he sees that the ultimate defenses of civilization are not the pill-boxes of the Mannerheim and Maginot Lines, but the tissues of the human brain, and he thinks they are still in good order, even though they are taking a terrific battering in these times. Mr. Sherwood is distinctly uneasy when he looks at the part America is playing in this cellular shell-fire, but he doesn't get around to saying what we should do about it. It's just as well, because a man as aroused as Mr. Sherwood may not have his own brain cells under discipline.

As usual, the Lunts have surrounded themselves with an expert cast. Richard Whorf is especially good as the sketches in a sympathetic American broadcaster doing the crisis circuit ("the American public insists on being kept fully informed"). In all, it is a cast that makes the most of many excellently written scenes, and never really lets the audience down. It has been said that the American stage is incapable of producing a good play about a contemporary dictatorship. Mr. Sherwood has done it; in achieving his success he has looked at tyranny from the north side of the Mannerheim Line, and to find its victims has trepanned the human skull and poked around in the gray matter inside.

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