6 NOVEMBER 1942, Page 11


MR. RONALD MILLAR, the young author who wrote at sea the new thriller now at the Ambassadors, has very nearly succeeded in planning a complicated and spooky murder play ; but even that master of atmosphere, Mr. Ernest Milton, who succeeds in taking every one of the fences scattered over the field by the author cannot, even by his easy grace and debonair assurance, quite succeed in making us forget the monstrousness of these obstacles to belief, or the recklessness with which they are jerked so conspicuously before our eyes. Yet there is ingenuity in the invention of a second murderer, subsidiary to the principal, who gives an early shock to our nerves and is an ever-threatening danger maintaining the tension for the main event. The very appearance of Murderer Minor (Roy Emerton) is so hair-raising that only Mr. Milton's craft- cunning can keep us interested and scared in anticipation of Mur- derer Major, who turns out to be the household butler. This is one of those reconstructed murders and it has its points but, frankly, the play loses grip after the second act, and when an injured female (Edna Wood) is brought down from her bedroom, deposited on a couch, then left alone by all the other inmates in order that Murderer Minor shall attempt and yet fail to murder her (and so raise our spirits) our interest evaporates. But for a young, inex- perienced dramatist this play is nevertheless a promising beginning and it does offer an opportunity to Ernest Milton to make use of his very great imaginative talent.

A circus at the Scala Theatre giving two performances daily at it o'clock and 3 p.m. is a reminder that we are already well in November. This is a real circus with a proper arena built on the stage and a plenitude of elephants, horses and other animals brought, I presume, from Chessington Zoo. It has been devised and produced by Mr. Frank Foster, ring-master, who, I take it, is a member of the famous Foster family of old circus fame. It provides an excellent fare on traditional lines for children, and discriminating adults will find, entertainment in a number of turns among which I single out a fine tight-rope act by Mlle. Glydo and a remarkably good performing sea-lion. Horses are of course, the mainstay of a circus and they are here good and Plenty ; also the indispensable clowns in an amusing water-act and wherever else they can interpose