People Like Us. By Frank Vosper. (Wyndham's )
BASED on the Thompson-Bywaters murder case, this play takes us back to the suburbia of 1922 and the triangle of eternity. Ethel Carter has a weakness—destined to prove fatal—for dramatising her- self ; but beneath her novelette-ish dreams and posturings there is a capacity for true passion, an apprehension of true beauty and a stoat- like ruthlessness. It is easy, or comparatively easy, to see through' her affectations and pretences, but much less easy to gauge the strength of the character which they partly express, partly conceal. Her lover makes the mistake of taking her at her own valuation, and sees in her only the magic and moonbeams of high romance ; her husband, brutalised by disillusionment, thinks that he has her measure because he can expose her artifices and argues that where there are so many shallows there can be no depths.
All three pay for their errors with their lives. Mrs. Carter decides to get rid of her husband, tries to poison him and (becauss, he has seen thus far into her mind) fails. But her lover, a merchant seaman, has received from her what is in effect a correspondence course on the crime passionel and, returning suddenly from overseas, commits one with a knife at Mrs. Carter's instigation. For this he hangs and so—because of the evidence of premeditation in her letters to him— does she, though only after a scene in .a prison cell which strays, at the end, into depths of self-revelation which are both embarrassing and improbable.
This is a skilful and intelligent play, competently acted. Miss Kathleen Michael lacl5s both the range and the experience for the central part, but has a creditable shot at it. Mr. Clive Morton as her husband and Mr. Robert Flemyng as ,her lover both give very sound performances, and there is admirable support from Miss Alison Leggatt, Miss Olga Lindo, Mr. George Rose and—especially—Miss Anna Turner. But it is Mr. Miles Malleson, as Ethel's father, who provides the best acting of all in a farewell scene with this puzzling creature whom he still thinks of as a little girl, but who has inexplic- ably turned into a murderess awaiting the gallows.