"Running An Eye Over Repertory"
A Review by ‘Jotter’, in The Truth 1935
Now for a little honest criticism of the audience and the seating accommodation at Repertory's first play of the year, Will Shakespeare. The audience did its best to spoil the production by arriving from 8 p.m. to 8.30 and flinging itself into the seats with noisy abandon.
Some tripped on the long steps in the dark and shrieked in terror before they picked themselves up. Every movement of the patrons, irked by the long speeches, drew from the depths of the seats a long piercing whistle like a patent kettle announcing that it was boiling. The show on the first night was like a Chinese opera in length. It got off the mark before eight and was still going strong, or rather determinedly, at 25 to 12, when "Truth's" Jotter struggled out.
The long speeches obviously bored many of the patrons, who are subscribers, and they indulged in persiflage and merry chatter to the intense annoyance of the earnest students of the bard of Avon.
Clemence Dane certainly presents Shakespeare as a wordy, windy and morbidly introspective man; one pretty girl was heard to remark that she always had an idea that Will Shakespeare was a merry soul - like Falstaff.
Vera Tighe, as Mary Fitton, was completely in character most of the time, though her voice became strident occasionally. She suffered from an awful black wig, put on like a haystack. It looked worse than that when unbound for the "Juliet" scene. Barbara Sisley, as Queen Elizabeth, might have been the Queen come to life in some of the scenes, and except when the speeches were too long for patience, acted magnificently. She, Graham Macdonald as Henslowe, and Vera Tighe all were responsible for the high spots of acting. The settings were faithful, but all looked too new.
Tom McMinn was sincere in his attempt at portraying Shakespeare, but he fell short of greatness, mumbled too much at others. He looked strikingly like the portraits of the Bard. Clemence Dane did not allow Will to have any lighter moments.
Top marks are due to Roy Black and the Repertory squad for scenery and furnishings, Hugh Brandon for incidental music, designer of costumes, the shadow players (particularly Cecil Carson's son), and Rhoda Felgate's touches in the production which was good almost all through.
When Vice-President Nixon came forth to make a speech about the opening of the season not a word was heard beyond four seats of the stalls for, at that moment, the mechanists and stage hands at the back began a welter of scene shifting, hammering and bumping; but he appeared to be saying something about the difficulties Repertory experiences in staging its shows.
Bottom marks to the bright soul who pushed the press into the gallery and left it to break its neck, strain its ears to hear the amateur whose voice does not carry, and try to follow the dialogue.
Truth is of opinion that Will Shakespeare should have been the subject of a reading, not a production. It is too great a part, the title role, to expect an amateur to play it.
Matron Sorensen was in the circle at the show, and in another part of the house was Mrs. Edgar Holt, up here visiting her parents. Una Bick was also with a party. Una will do some work with the University Dramatic Society this year. Nancy Fowles was with Mrs. Robert Scott, who will produce the next Repertory show, She Passed Through Lorraine. Patricia Maguire, in a beautifully cut pale blue frock, was noticed in the circle. Mrs. Roy Parkinson looked adorable in her little linen frock with its full kirtle and quaint cap-"Anne Hathaway" in the show.