21 MAY 1937, Page 15

"A Ship Comes Home." By Daisy Fisher. At the St.


SIX successful novels, the programme informs us, stand to Miss Fisher's credit ; her most popular play ran in the West End for over a year ; and her last book is called A Heart Was Lost. The failings (which by no means outweigh the merits) of her new comedy can almost be deduced from the foregoing data. She belongs (though I don't believe this particular formula can be heard at the St. Martin's) to the I-didn't-know-you-cared school ; she can, and does, speak of " a hundred little happinesses." She is, in a word, a literary dramatist, writing in a style whose anomalies jar more violently than the auguster, more extravagant, flights of (say) the Restoration's essays in the heroic. An over-plausible imitation is for some obscure reason harder to stomach than sheer travesty. But this criticism applies only to occasional falsities in the dialogue. The play as a whole comes off. Stich plot as it has properly belongs to a feuilleton ; the two most sympathetic characters not only love the same man but turn out to be mother and daughter in the last act, and the wickedness Of the wicked sister is such as to demand a green spotlight. For all that Mrs. Combe's house and its carefully assorted tenants are credible and interesting ; and, though the plot does not obtrude itself, Miss Fisher's loyalty to the emotional values of the feuilleton gives her play: strength if not distinction. It is extremely well acted. Miss Mary Clare, skimming adroitly over patches genteelly purple, plays an actress faultlessly. Miss Sarah Erskine shows promise and sincerity as the local Cinderella.. Miss Judy Kelly spits fire with admirable precision as her wanton sister. Miss Muriel Aked is a perennial joy, and Mr. MiChael Redgrave hives. ts a dull part with authdrity and grace. Only Miss Laura Cowie, as the raddled mistress of a muddled house, misses the bull's-eye with a suggestive but uneven perform- ance. The play is well worth seeing, and the stage manager's name, in case any of you are interested, is E. Twigge Molecey.