Isabel, 1925

Isabel, a comedy in three acts by Curt Goetz

Produced by Charles Frohman
Directed by Frank Reicher

followed by: Shall We Join the Ladies?

Empire Theatre, New York – January 13, 1925

Cast of Characters:

Peter Graham Leslie Howard
Miteby P. Kaye
Isabel Margaret Lawrence
Aunt Olivia Edna May Oliver
Prof. Wilton Shawle Lyonel Watts


Isabel, lively and loving, is married to Professor  Shawle, scientist, who is more interested in his bugs than he is in her. But Isabel believes him to be the hero of one of her childish adventures and is loyal. At least she is loyal until Peter Graham comes along and it develops that he and not the professor is the real hero she has been dreaming about. Then there is a lively flirtation ending in Isabel’s promise to meet Peter at the brook that evening at eleven. At eleven Isabel goes out for a stroll, but not even the butler knows how far she intended to go.
(Burn Mantle, Best Plays of 1924-1925, p. 522)


The play is another angle of the familiar triangle. The brunt of the entire action is borne by the three characters, husband, wife and lover. As played by Watts, Lawrence and Howard, respectively, the piece moves off smoothly even through the complicated conversational passages. As usual in plays of this genre, the dialog abounds in sparkling epigrams, many of them almost over-brilliant for immediate context. The play is strictly for the intelligentsia and requires the closest of concentration for full appreciation.[…]
The three acts are played in one set, which is tastefully designed and mounted. Five characters make up the ensemble, and each role is played with uniform care and distinction. The opening performance was practically letter-perfect. There is a butler part made up of not over a score of lines which is a comedy gem. As played by A.P. Kaye it became towering. Edna May Oliver as the spinster aunt contributed materially to the general effect. Lyonel Watts and Leslie Howard played the husband and lover, with Howard slightly in the lead.
(Burton, Variety, January 7, 1925)

“Isabel,” adapted from the German by Arthur Richman, is a slight comedy always a trifle thin, but with good turns to it. […]
The comedy was played too slow very often, but otherwise admirably and to nuch applause. Rarely is there a company to be seen where every one comes off so well. Margaret Lawrence presented always successfully the charming and stray-thoughted young wife. Lyonel Watts gave to the Professor a really lovable cast and saved him delightfully from the stale patterns of stage professors in general. Peter Graham, the lover, exacted from Leslie Howard the best work that I have seen him do. His social comedy was no more admirable than of old. But his more various intervals were played with a freedom and warmth beyond anything I have seen from him; they had remarkable poise and right feeling, with technical certainty. Aunt Olivia, in the hands of Edna May Oliver, came near to sweeping the stage. She gave us something so droll and witty and acrid, with so good tradition of caustic maturity, that it rejoiced all hearts. Miss Oliver gave also a capital exhibition of the elusive fine ear in the theatre, a sense of the precise time of every speech.
(Stark Young, The New York Times, January 14, 1925)


Leslie Howard in Isabel margaret lawrence
isabel theatre
1_a22831c7f1dd52f994e02d06d0b8616b  Isabel