Just Suppose, 1920

Just Suppose, a comedy in three acts by A.E. Thomas

Henry Miller’s Theatre ,124 W.  43rd St., New York, NY
November 1st, 1920
88 performances

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Kingsley Stafford George Pauncefort
Hannibal Lawrence Eddinger
Mrs. Carter Stafford Mrs. Thomas Whiffen
Montgomery Warren William J. Keighley
Linda Lee Stafford Patricia Collinge
Hon. Sir Calverton Shipley Leslie Howard
George Geoffrey Kerr
The Marquis of Kamaby Fred Kerr

SYNOPSIS
Act I. —The Stafford Drawing Room, Fairview. An Evening in May. Act II. — The Same Next Afternoon. Act III. — The Stafford Garden. A Fortnight Later—Evening.

George (who may have been the Prince of Wales) “ditches” a dinner given him by the American Secretary of State in Washington and goes motoring through Virginia. With him is his old Eton chum, Calverton Shipley, who happens to know the Staffords of Fairview and stops to pay his respects. George, following Shipley into the house, meets Linda Lee Stafford, and thereupon refuses flatly to motor back to Washington. Not, at least, until the next day. It is love at first sight with Linda Lee and her prince, and he will gladly give up his royal job if she will say the word. But she knows that he belongs to his people and sends him back, knowing that all her life she will remember the thrill of his handclasp and be haunted by the smile in his eyes.
(The Best Plays of 1920-21 and the Year Book of the Drama in America, Edited by Burns Mantle. Boston : Small, Maynard & Co., c1921, p. 399)

…It was great fun to see Mrs. Whiffen again last night; a great pleasure to join the vociferous greeting which was her portion as soon as her charming and distinguished presence was once more behold upon the stage. It is not so easy to report of the performance of Patricia, which is sometimes extremely skillful and at others disturbingly saccharine. She lapses at times into the determined charm of the professional ingenue, and more than once you find yourself reluctantly reminded of the injunction given her by the demon stage mother in “The Show Shop,” whose counsel was always: “Shrink, Bettina.” But Miss Collinge plays the difficult final scene with great adroitness, and even manages somehow to pull the audience through an appalling and incredible letter from the girl’s dead mother which she must needs draw from her bosom and read aloud with much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
There should be a word, too, for the amusing and engaging Leslie Howard as the Prince’s pal who, however, indulges in the most extraordinary clowning, expressing mild surprise by almost falling down and the slightest embarrassment by something strongly resembling convulsions. The direction is doubtless responsible for this, but no director can be made the scapegoat for some of the play’s clumsiness, notably in respect of the succession of scenes, for, whenever it becomes necessary for any character or characters to withdraw from the stage, not the long arm of coincidence but the long arm of A.E. Thomas can be clearly descried reaching out from the wings to yank them off.
(Alexander Woolcott, The New York Times, November 2, 1920)

“…There is no scarcity of climaxes in “Just Suppose”. There is, in fact, one too many, the last act being the savagest example of an anti-climax seen in these parts in some moons… It is all right for Mr. Thomas to suppose that the Prince of Wales might have run away from the horrors of a prohibition Washington’s entertainment in his honor, and that he might win the love of Virginia’s fairest “flowah, sah”, Miss Linda Lee Stafford, and that she might fall in love with such an amiable lad, and they both might realize the hoplessness of a marriage and let each other go away with the unspoken, but jolly well-known, love secret buried between them. That would be something like a real bit of drama, but it would enrage the girls, and that would never do… so Mr. Thomas made “Just Suppose” a teary paradise for matinee Niobes…
But “Just Suppose” has compensations in the personnel of the cast. It has Mrs. Thomas Whiffen, the old gentlewoman of the American theater, fine and frail like a piece of rare china, delicate and lovely as a bit of real rose-point lace, and abounding in that tenacious and marvelous vitality of spirit which is the phenomenon of a bygone generation. It has Fred Kerr, an English actor, who has the precious, irritating and indefinable gift of playing an urbane, unpretentious elderly gentleman like one; precious because we see it so seldom, and irritating, because of that fact… Then there is Fred Kerr’s son, Geoffrey, who plays the Prince. If the heir-apparent is half so wholesome, likable and winsome a lad as Mr. Kerr makes him Britannia may rule all she pleases. He is a rosy-cheeked, clean-toothed, well-scrubbed young man, unaffected and honestly boyish… Leslie Howard, as the haphazard embassy youngster who is the Prince’s pal, is capital. Patricia Collinge plays Linda Lee Stafford, and William J. Keightly is her Virginia cavalier.”  (Patterson James, Billboard, Dec. 4, 1920)

The hero’s companion, a member of the embassy and an old schoolmate of the prince’s, is acted with captivating breeziness at the Henry Miller by Leslie Howard.” (Matthew White Jr., Munsey’s Magazine, Jan. 1921, p. 709)

Leslie Howard, who appears as the Prince’s chum, the youth who has to take tho blame for all of the Prince’s escapades, does splendidly. He has a genius for light comedy and his young English nobleman is as engaging as he is amusing.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 2, 1920)

Leslie Howard, also a native Britisher, who plays the part of the Prince’s pal, gives a delightful sketch of the matter-of-fact comical but interesting young Englishman of today.” (Charleston Daily Mail, December 5, 1920)

It is rather a peculiar thing that Geoffrey Kerr was case for the role of the Prince. Although he was English, you know, and all that, down to the tips of his “boots,” one could not help but think that Leslie Howard, who played the part of the Hon. Sir Calverton Shipley, the best friend of the Prince, looked far more like the real Prince of Wales.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan. 25, 1921)

Geoffrey Kerr and Patricia Collinge in "Just Suppose" (Theatre Magazine, January 1921)

Geoffrey Kerr and Patricia Collinge in “Just Suppose” (Theatre Magazine, January 1921)

Just Suppose: The Stage

Just Suppose: The Stage

Leslie Howard in Just Suppose

Mrs. Whiffen, Leslie Howard and Patricia Collinge in Just Suppose

Leslie Howard in Just Suppose

George Pauncefort, Leslie Howard, Geoffrey Kerr, Mrs Thomas Whiffen
and Patricia Collinge in Just Suppose

Just Suppose

Fred Kerr and Patricia Collinge in Just Suppose