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? The producer (Mr. Jack Bushby) had every reason for satisfaction at the reception ac- corded thc trio of Noel Coward plays, and at the stage craftsmanship at "The Playhouse," Hobart, on Saturday. "Hands Across the Sea," "Red Peppers, and "Ways and Means,"
the. plays comprising the Repertory Theatre Society s latest season, "Tonight at 8.30," differ delightfully from each other, yet com-
prise neatly Interlocked theatrical fare. The first night was a triumph far principals.
First and foremost was thc Individual ar- tistry of Mary Harbottle. To the roles of Lady Maureen Gilpin In "Hands Across the Sea and Stella Cartwright In "Ways and Means," this gifted actress brought sophis- tication, expression, and matured resource. Assisted by Jack Bushby In the role'of her naval husband, by Cicely McKinley as sprightly and outspoken Clare Wedderburn, by Don. Sharp, and Don Moore as Major Gos- ling, she drifted engagingly over the cross- currents of the group's attempt to entertain lame ducks from the East. The bewilder- ment of tho latter pair (C. O'Conor and Megan Griffiths) was parried by the adroit- ness of their "perfect hostess" in a comedy of mistaken Identity.
The transformation from this comedy of errors to the Intimate bedroom scenes of "Ways and Means" gave Miss Harbottle added scope. James Pratt was leading man In the escapades that led Stella and Toby Cart- wright to their stratagem of abetting a chauf- feur to ransRck the casino winnings of a fcllow-gucst. Shell Hirrlson, as long-suf- fering hostess. Violet Vimpany la Russian princess), Don. Moore, and Albert Sharp as Riviera habitues. Maud Bailey as a maid, and Don. Sharp as the romantic and acquisitive chauffeur Joined In the subtlety and excite- ments of this play. Dav!<i Newell, In walk-on parts, was a capable Ingredient.
"Red Peppers." the third attraction, was great fun. Here James Pratt was called on lo double on his "Ways and Means" perform- ance. The song and patter, and the tap dancing in which he and Claire Mitchell were teamed on Saturday brought down thc house. Megan Griffiths and Don. Sharp again effectively contributed character parts. Don. WMson's orchestra In "Red Peppers" gave the production acrccable finish.
"Tonight at 8.30" will be repealed tonight.