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Mercury Has Fun With Linklater

Eric Linklater's wayward "Love in Albania," which mixes some delicious fun and naughtiness with quantities ot tedious , gasbagging, was brought into the Mercury Theatre's repertory at St. James's Hall on Wednesday.

John Appleton's efficient little production, which caused much laughter in most of the best places, was well served by some neat and lively players; but the comedy even of the best of them was inclined to run in very nar- row grooves and to die for want of rich and exuberant variety of gesture, expression and monkey


Of course the play's weak- nesses are bound to show with anything less than a brilliant cast, for Linklater is more an oppor- tunist than a playwright in crafts- manship. He merely thinks of thiee or four absurd characters, puts them on stage, and lets them live on their wits, and his, for three improvisatory hours.

The play is written for a stage that is supposed to be a cross-section through the living room and bedroom of a London flat-an arrangement that was | shrewdly managed on the tiny St.

lames platform.

The characters are a bird brained young wife who utters twittering inanities about love, morals, philosophy, and her dithering friend who keeps a pet alligator in the bath; a bad mannered author just back from a mysterious passion in Albania; a beefy American murderer with no brain and plenty of comic slanguage to express it with; a Scottish cook; and a harassed husband whose face only lights up at the mention that other fellows, too, have ulcers.

Linklater lets this assorted company play conversational tennis with a few slight ideas love is best when unfulfilled: love is being degraded to a play- thing; husbands and wives who. these days, manage- not to murder each other arc really quite exceptional people. It is a pity that the wit ebbs more often than it flows, but what fun it is to hear, for instance, that any- body can be "as mean and low as the ring of dirt around an orphan's bath."

Moira Redmond, as the twit terer, behaved with remarkable vivacity from start to finish, and no doubt the small stage accoun- ted for some of the repetitious

ness in her quick pacings and fidgets and handwavings. all of them rather in an exaggerated Eddie Cantor manner. Harp McGuire sustained the role of the moronic American thug cleverly, without once stepping outside the role to share his

[Spectators' enjoyment of the character's absurdity.

The other players were Ken Fraser, who should try to be more charming between scowls; Leila Blake, whose Scottish accent seemed authentic, but too aggressive for pleasure; and John Barker, whose somewhat wooden and clerkly style ill fitted the mysterious author, least of all in his passionate out- burst of Albanian reminiscences about love and murder.-L.B

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