THE ARCHER-SHEE CASE
By Our Theao a Correspondent
Mr. Terence Rattigan has chosen the famous Archer-Slice case as the basis of his new play, The Winslow Boy (Lyric) and not since the opening of Henry IV (Part 2) at the Old Vic have I had a more satisfying evening at the theatre. And the reason, so to speak, is the same: team-work. Here. in a much smeller way, of course, is just such a perfect blending of the talents of author, players and producer, all supremely conscious of the time-worn, but too often out of mind, dictum "the play's the thing." A boy is expelled from Osborne for stealing a postal order. His father fights a long and lonely battle, impoverishing and physically arduous, to establish his innocence. Against the might of a Government Service Dr pertinent he eventually enlists Press, public and Parliament. He is vietetioue: the price is great. Mr. Rattigan has made art inspiring and dramatic two-acter of his material. As a test-piece ef his quality I suggest the reader observe the writing of the lines placed in the mouth of the parlour-maid, played so esquisitely by Miss Kathleen Harrison, that the effect on the reviewer was to make him want to rush out of the theatre and drag the world in to watch her. And encore. Mr. Emlyn Williams plays the barrister on the precision ot.' a very fine craftsman: Mr. Frank Cellier. Mr. Jack Watling, Miss Ang.la Baddeley, Master Michael Newell—all the players—one c,ould wine an article on each. Mr. Rattigan writes for actors who arc artists: they don't fail him.
A kw more plays about crazy perverts at the Enthassy, and the audience —or at least the critics—will go crazy themselves. Why this fashion? Is it that people like to see natio* ill the raw so that they may reflect on their own superiority, or so that they may become, for a couple of hours and at
second hand, raw themselves? Anyhow. Evelyn (Miss Betty Ann Davies) in Guest in the House, is so abominable a creature in her way of undermining with a soft tongue and a disarming smile of the young invalid a happy married life that one felt almost awkward even in her theatrical presence. On the other hand, this play, like others wbich deal with Insanity and perversion, depends on the obtuseness of every other character in not recognising a nasty piece of work when they see one. Even the Vicar is prepared to take her word in the middle of the night, repeat her slander to the neighbourhood, and all at the expense of a family he has known intimately! Such improbabilities spoil a play with good lines and some dramatic situations. A word for Margaret Cooper, who admirably played a little girl of about II. But what she made of .it.all goodness only