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Theatre: New Plays in Manhattan: May 21, 1928

2 minute read

The High Hatters. Neither very funny nor very exciting, this slangy little mystery farce was wafted quietly into a theatre by a draught from the wings when someone left the stage door open to the lazy mid-spring airs of Broadway. It summarizes the doings of two second story men who become inmates in a boobyhatch so that they can practice their profession without legal interruption.

Blackbirds of 1928. Every small-time circuit travels upon the sometimes not so nimble limbs of its tap dancers. These are often the riff-raff of their profession; the finest tap dancer in the world is Bill Robinson, long a spot of interest on Keith’s tours. His feet are as quick as a snare drummer’s hands; in Blackbirds he has a double flight of five stairs which, when he trots up and down it, produces a rapid tuneless and delicious music. Bill Robinson makes the show; if he were on the stage more of the time he would make the show a lot better. Not but what Adelaide Hall, with her hoarse, high voice, and an energetic chorus make Blackbirds, despite dull moments, the best coon show in town.

The Father. This is August Strindberg’s furious fancy about a man who married an incredibly mean wife. Eager to hold absolute control of her daughter, she drove her husband mad, then poisoned him. As ineptly performed by Robert Whittier, who puffed and bellowed like a sick seal, the play is lightened of its hatred, its horror, and, indeed, of any effect.

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