SHE WANTED A HOME [" THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WANTED,"
BY SIDNEY HOWARD. ST. MARTIN'S THEATRE.] THERE were signs, early in this play, that we might be in for another of the now frequent, because still popular, mixtures of sentimentality with violence—something (if you can imagine it) between Fata Morgana and The Land of Promise. It turned out much better than we thought.
It was, indeed, sentimental in the Californian vineyard- proprietor Tony—a " Wop," as they call Italian immigrants over there—to woo his bride Amy by post ; and it was roman- tic in him to send her the photograph of the dour youth, who worked on his farm, instead of his own. For Tony is past middle-age, and, though cheerful, not beautiful. It was clumsy, too, in Tony not to meet Amy in good time at the station, but to drive down late in a Ford car and to get both his legs broken on the way. Was it Amy's fault, thereupon, that she supposed the handsome youth—played with a non- chalant ease by Mr. Glenn Anders—to be her bridegroom ? He stared hard at her and said nothing, until Tony (temporarily legless) arrived. Then she flared out, with Miss Tallulah Bankhead's hysterical vehemence—all nerves and twisted hands and fidgety feet and husky voice. But Tony was to blame and we cannot be sorry for him when Amy and Joe embrace with violence. He brought it all on himself.
Later, the author skilfully develops an essential lovable- ness in his hero. One more outburst, when the good Wop dis- covers the momentary " affair " between Amy and Joe, But the youth was ever a wanderer. He can be got rid of. And Amy has had enough of a hazardous life without prospects. She " wanted " a home ; and if she can get a very neat one— with diamond earrings thrown in—she will renounce passion for comfort. Joe is dismissed and departs.
Has Amy learnt to love Tony after all ? Perhaps. Anyhow, you see that the compromise is skilful—a thirst for adventure' slightly indulged in the first act ; prudence reasserting itself later ; a summary of average life. As the play proceeds, even Miss Bankhead settles down, and manages to suggest that, in later life, Amy will be less husky and fidgety. It is the best performance I have seen her give, and it is matched by the florid, sympathetic Won Mr. Sam Livesey.