“THE DARK BOOM."
Repertory Players' Production.
A play in three Acts, by Robertson Hare and Sydney Lynn, presented by the Repertory Players at the Strand Theatre Sunday, Nov. 13.
Reach - Harold B. Meade
Ray Huxley - Henry Hoare
James Singleton - Dan F. Roe
Doctor Johns - H.G Stoker
Betty Ash - Phyllis Koneiam
Reginald Ash - D A. Clarke-Smith
Najl - Gwendolen Evans
Fowler - S. Victor Stanley
Benjamin Mead - Lawrence Baskcomb
Inspector Sankey - Charles Mortimer
Police Constable Jenkins - William Monk
Tom Winthrop - Leonard Thompson
White - Reginald Arthur
A photographic dark room as the locale of a murder is distinctly original, and the most graphic scene in Messrs. Robertson Hare and Sydney Lynn’s mystery play (presented by the Repertory Players at the Strand Theatre on Sunday last) is the development of the roll him that incriminates the assassin. The detective and the various characters bending over the dishes in the ruby light and the excitement as the image began to appear (a thrilling moment even to a snapshotter who has boon taking the family on the lawn !) kept the audience very still. Then the inevitable black-out and the film was found be missing.
These were the best moments in "The Dark Room,” which took a long time to get going. It was not until the murder of Reginald Ash, the degenerate Anglo-Indian on a visit to his father-in-law’s house, that I began to get interested, and that was half way through the play. Before that there was a good deal of irrelevant talk about a case of poisoning that occurred in the dark room twenty years before; a queer Chinese god that had been left behind by the previous occupiers, and a motto about danger when East meets West during a thunderstorm. All this to create atmosphere; but it had nothing to do with the case.
Ash, a hectoring bully who, although married to the pretty Betty, had brought an Indian mistress with him from the East, deserved to die, but the person who killed him was the least suspected of all those repeatedly cross examined by the local detective who had evidently seen some American crook dramas. It does not reveal too much to say that Ash died by a poison that was really intended for someone else. Before this is discovered the butler (who tried rather clumsily to shield his master), Betty’s charming old father, the young man who should have married Betty, and one or two others are suspected. In the last act that familiar figure in crook plays, the silly ass arrives, and unobtrusively takes charge of things. He it is who solves the mystery with the usual air of facetiousness. If the opening scenes were polished up with better dialogue, the play should be popular in the regular theatre, for there is plenty of action, two excellent curtains and a surfeit of mystery in the last three scenes. "The Dark Room” was well produced by Mr. Ion Swinley and finely acted. After seeing Mr. D. A. Clarke-Smith twice in a week in farcical parts, his performance as the deplorable Ash in this play was another proof of his versatility. It was a perfect study of degenerate bully. Mr. Harold B. Meade did well as the frightened butler, and an attractive and sensitive piece of acting came from Mr. Henry Hoare. Mr. Dan F. Roe’s portrait of the father, a charmingly drawn picture of a bird-lover, was a tenderly realised characterisation. The tone his voice and the lost expression of his when he was arrested for the murder was beautiful acting. Mr. Charles Mortimer had humorous authority as the dogged Police Inspector and Mr. William Monk was a country policeman to the life. Miss Phyllis Konstam acted well as the young wife, and a remarkably Eastern Naji (the Indian servant) was seen in Miss Gwendolen Evans. Mr. Lawrence Baskcomb had two or three striking scenes and accepted magnificently the fine opportunity given to him at the end the play. Mr. Leonard Thompson was amusing as the facetious amateur detective; Mr. S. Victor Stanley put some authentic character into his two appearances; Mr, H. G. Stoker was excellent as a doctor, and Mr. Reginald Arthur acquitted himself well in the few moments he was on the stage. G.W.B.