G-II [Drama/Death/Fantasy/Illness/Science/War] A: Edmund B. Hennefield; D/S: Edward R. Mitchell; CH: Pearl Primus; C: Charles Quinan; P: Associated Playwrights; T: Henry Street Playhouse (OB); 5/27/48
"An exhaustingly bad play," growled George Freedley ( NYMT). "Badly conceived, badly constructed, badly written, badly acted and badly directed," moaned Robert Garland ( NYJA). Its potentially powerful subject was germ warfare. In the program was the description: "A fantasy projected in the near future, narrating the effects of a deadly plague sweeping the world as a result of the bombing of a German bacteriological warfare factory during World War II."
The virus (g-II) released is capable of attacking the mind and body and driving the infected person to kill himself. A young woman ( Jeanette Clift) is married to a scientist ( Henry Hart) who does experiments in the prolongation of human tissue, hoping to find a cure for the virus; while a prisoner of the Nazis, he may have been responsible for starting the epidemic. The wife contracts the disease, which causes her to confront death, represented as a Spaniard with a red garotte. This leads her to discover the other characters' true natures. She learns that her husband plans to use the cure selectively so as to foster a new master race and that he wants to create a race of slaves.
Pearl Primus and her troupe of dancers appeared in fantasy sequences accompanied by offstage drumbeats to perform rhythmic movements suggestive of the horrible effects of the virus. A number of other attempts at "experimental" staging techniques were included as well, and there were some flashy lighting effects.
GABRIELLE [Comedy/Illness/Literature/Marriage/Medicine/Music/Romance] A: Leonardo Bercovici; SC: Thomas Mann short story, "Tristan"; M: Rudi Revil; D: Randolph Carter; S: Peggy Clark; C: Kenn Barr; P: Rowland Leigh; T: Maxine Elliott's Theatre; 3/25/41 (2)
An "extremely bad play" ( Louis Kronenberger [ PM]) based on a 1902 Thomas Mann short story that was developed into the novelist's The Magic Mountain. Kelcey Allen ( WWD) opined, "There is so little action to the effort that it is difficult to tell why the acts end, why the play ends, or, getting down to cases, why it begins. It would be hard indeed to find a play with less action. Added to this, the dialogue is meaningless and dull. Any attempt to build up a character is completely missed."
The year is 1908. To a fashionable Swiss sanatorium in the Alps the blustering bourgeois businessman Anton Kloterjahn ( Harold Vermilyea) brings his pretty wife, Gabrielle ( Eleanor Lynn), a timid soul who has been seriously weakened from a difficult childbirth. Romance blooms in the heart of one of the invalids, eccentric minor novelist Detlev Spinell ( John Cromwell), a vain idealist whose supposed passion for pure beauty leads him to drive Gabrielle, despite her condition, to climb mountains and to play the piano. It is the fatigue stemming from the latter that causes her to die, but in dying to preserve Detlev's vision of her unspoiled beauty.