The Theatre in the Fifties

The Theatre in the Fifties

The Theatre in the Fifties

The Theatre in the Fifties

Excerpt

UNDOUBTEDLY one of the things that has injured the theatre with much of the public is the improvement it has shown in its later years. Though the critics, along with the minority of its clients, warmly welcome these changes for the better, the general trade does not seem to appreciate and relish them, and as a consequence business is not always what it used to be. Take, for example, the matter of acting. It simply is no longer ham enough, and what the public craves, though it may not be altogether conscious of the fact, is the old-time species that the critics sarcastically derogate but that the paying customers eat up with a gusto they usually reserve for its menu equivalent. Which is to say, acting in the grand old pigmeat manner, flamboyant, flourishful, booming, and on the whole suggestive of some political pitchman like Dirksen costumed by Barnum, made up by Buffalo Bill, and howling his head off in a stockyard.

The kind of acting the trade gets nowadays, except on such rare occasions as they import an Old Vic actor in Oedipus or allow some native specimen like Lee J. Cobb to let nature take its course, is strictly kosher and, while the run of playgoers may pretend for appearance's sake to admire it, down in their hearts they miss something. And that something is the swollen, exciting and galvanizing sort of thing that, however absurd, rattles the chandeliers and lifts the roof off a showhouse. The trouble with acting in these years, from the public's if not from the critics' viewpoint, is that it has become less and less theatrical and more and more merely a somewhat heightened dupli-

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