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At Brattle Hall

By S. A. K.

Dusted off this week for presentation at Brattle Hall is an old play of about six years back, "Reflected Glory." In a way it seems a shame that the dust was disturbed, for the play was none-too-good when Tallulah Bankhead starred in it on its last appearance, and it makes a poor vehicle for the stage debut of Gloria Swanson, the well-known screen star. The play deals with the life of a rising actress and her feelings about life in the theatre. She babbles constantly about wanting to marry and have a home of her own, but the audience knows from the start that she really loves the theatre and will, in all probability, wind up in the arms of her producer, whom she claims to despise. The story has been used so often that it has scarcely a vestige of originality remaining.

In addition to the shortcomings of the story, those of the direction succeed in destroying whatever vitality was originally there. Miss Swanson is made to parade back and forth across the stage in search of either a cigarette or an ash-tray in a manner that resembles Mac West imitating Katie Hepburn. This is a great shame, since Miss Swanson has a definite personality of her own which appears all too infrequently. When the influence of the director is apparently absent, she does a very fine job, particularly in the opening of the third act. Her limited knowledge of the stage permitted the director to run wild and consequently destroy the reality of the play. Unfortunately he succeeds in impairing the performances of almost all the actors with the shining exceptions of Myrtle Tannchill, Mary Barthelmess, and Miss Swanson's dog. On the whole the play lacks the timing and spirit that are the life-blood of the sophisticated comedy it tries to be and even the attractive presence of the star does not offset the failings of the production. Thus the total effect of "Reflected Glory" would involve a bad pun about a dirty mirror. It can all be chalked up to experience Miss Swanson's and ours.

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