R.U.R. [Dramatic Revival*] A: Karel Capek ; TR: Paul Selver; D: Lee Strasberg; S: Boris Aronson; P: David Silberman and L. Daniel Blank; T: Ethel Barrymore Theatre; 12/3/42 (4)
Capek's science-fiction drama with a moral, first produced here by the Theatre Guild in 1922 and shown by it again in 1930, was revived to little effect in 1942 with Gordon Oliver as Harry Domin, Lewis Wilson as Marius, Edith Atwater as Helena Glory, Horace Braham as Dr. Gall, Louis Hector as Dr. Hallemeier, Hugo Haas as Mr. Alquist, Reginald Mason as Consul Busman, Sydney Smith as Radius, and Katherine Balfour as Helena. The production was thought to bear certain parallels to contemporary conditions with its story of men against inhuman robot monsters, but it seemed "dated and not a little slow," thought Lewis Nichols ( NYT). He declared that "the play lacks characterization, the humans being more typed than the robots, and it has dialogue that seems stilted and unpointed now," an opinion widely shared. There had been minor changes in the dialogue, but George Jean Nathan ( TBY) felt that these did not go far enough, especially as the play was meant to be in the still distant future and lines suggesting someone's shock at a young lady's traveling alone and without a chaperone seemed ridiculous in this context.
The production was poorly directed in an inappropriately introspective mood. George Freedley ( NYMT) commented, "Lee Strasberg has staged it portentously and has paced it slowly and pitched it so inaudibly that you can count between the lines." It also lacked--except for Czech actor Haas--distinguished acting, although it was granted three fascinating settings by Boris Aronson.
RAIN [Dramatic Revival*/Blacks] A: John Colton and Clemence Randolph; D: Ted Post ; S: Roger Furman; L: George Lewis; P/T: American Negro Theatre (OB); 12/26/47 (28)
A blizzard was raging on the opening night of this black revival of the steamy 1922 drama based on a famous Somerset Maugham story. Its most recent revival had been in 1935. Produced at a theatre at 15 West 126th Street in Harlem, it included actress-writer Alice Childress as Sadie Thompson, her husband Alvin Childress as the Reverend Davidson, Maxwell Glanville as Sergeant O'Hara, Bootsie Davis as Trader Joe Horn, Geneva Fitch as Mrs. Davidson, Kenneth Mannigault as Dr. McPhail, and Clarice Taylor as Mrs. McPhail.
Brooks Atkinson ( NYT) considered the production intelligent and professional, with a proper stress on the irony of the writing. However, he felt that there was a missing subtlety in the psychological explorations of the leading roles. A major technical problem was that the sound effects of rain and tom-toms drowned out much of the dialogue; the problem was compounded by the sloppy and rushed speech of various players.
Atkinson thought Alvin Childress's Davidson the strongest performance, marked by "thorough insight and superior skill." Of his wife's Sadie, Atkinson reported that