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Whitehall Productions, the newly formed theatrical company, gave its first presentation on Saturday night at the Minerva Theatre, when its founders, Kathleen Robin- son and Alec Coppel, staged the premiere of Mr, Coppel's latest play, "Mr. Smart Guy." It was produced by the author before a packed
Those who found the playwright's "I Killed the Count" such a soundly-con- structed and Ingenious murder mystery will find much to entertain them in his latest offering, despite its weakness and it« lack: of sustained Interest. These are things which can generally be remedied by such clever and imaginative play- wrights as Mr. Coppel.
In the play a young man plans suc- cessfully to kill his rich uncle. He shrewdly water-tlghts his alibi by hav- ing the chief commissioner of police living in the same building-as his chief
Adroitly conceived, but until the final scene not strongly enough developed from the dramatic angle, "Mr. Smart Guy" has those novel and Imaginative touches so often absent in such plays. It in- trigues one as much as did "I Killed the Count," but it does not keep the Interest so taut. It again reveals the stilking dramatic Ingenuity of the author in con- structing a play with an original and exciting plot-this time over-embrold ercd with comedy.
ESSAY IN CRIMINOLOGY.
The main theme Is a neat essay in criminology, the title character a fas- cinating and arresting study.
Unfoitunately, the construction of the play sprawls in parts, while the dramatic flew of the narrative is uneven. The police Interiogation of the suspect who so flagiantly flaunts his criminal ingenuity before the authorities is also too broken up by extraneous incident and laughable portraiture to make it grip sufficiently. And the character of the dithering chief commissioner of police emphasises this.
The first act drags, and the second loses its necessary punch and develop- ment of tension because its couise of drama Is too often Impeded by comic interference. The plot Is halted to no defi- nite purpose except to furnish laughter. Thus the police Investigation takes on an Inconsequentially that destroys instead of developing atmosphere and tension The' climax that rises tediously in the last act before It reaches its intensely exciting anti totally unexpected denoue- ment, compensates for some previous ¡sluggish movement; while the explana-
tion of how thp crime was actually committed is brilliantly conceived and vouched for as merhanicallv possible by
I Scotland Yard authorities.
I - THE CAST.
i After first-night defects and revrla I tions. "Mr. Smart Guy" will undoubtedly i emerge better knit and more balanced
entertainment, for the acting Ls excellent all round and the settings designed by William Constable are vividly decorative.
Nigel Lovell was always an arresting character as the cratty Albion; Harvey Adsms was forceful as the harassed de- tective-Inspector, wiLh complete lack of respect for his superior, the chief com- missioner of police. The latter was played with much comic petulance and pomposity by Richard Parry. Charles Zoll as the illiterate porter, Gossage, was delightfully, in character. A gem of a thumbnail sketch was the Irascible Mr. Gruppy of Leslie Victor. Phil Smith created much diversion by his snivelling and excitable Mr. Hymie. Charles Mccallum was applauded for his portrait of, Mr. Justice Abercorn. 'Catherine Dun- can satisfactorily, took the sole feminine role.4 and Frederick MoMahon created lïlighter with his burly Dntnotlve Farr. John MacDougall and Grant Mcintyre i>l»ytd minor rolei. -