29 APRIL 1955, Page 20


(London Hippodrome.)--Kismur. (Stoll.) FROM across the Atlantic come this week's shows. I say 'shows' advisedly, for neither thriller nor musical is really theatre. The Desperate Hours is a melodrama which switches from Sheriff's office in an American city to the suburban house, where a bunch of psychopathic hoodlums, who have broken jail, are hiding out. The plot revolves around the fortunes of the ordinary American family whose house they have chosen, and the efforts

of the law to capture them without causing them to massacre their hostages. All this makes for thrills and it was well enough acted by the cast for tension to be built up. Richard Carlyle was had enough and mad enough as the chief gangster and Bernard Lee made a good study of the pure de famine at the end of his patience. The only snag came from the amplifying arrangements at the theatre, which succeeded in making most of what the actors said inaudible. The play was quite exciting as it was, but how much more so, could we have understood the dialogue.

Kismet is the latest attempt to bring Bagdad to Broadway, and its Cook's conducted tour to the gorgeous East follows traditional lines with life one damned zenana after another and everyone addressing each other as 'thou.' The pace is much slower than is usual in Ameri- can musicals—more like Chu Chin Chow than Oklahoma—and the evening owes much of its success to the talents of Alfred Drake, whose immense vitality comes across the footlights in waves. The tunes are pleasant and the chorus as determinedly diaphanous as anyone could hope.