Mr. Pim Passes By, 1920
Mr. Pim Passes By by A. A. Milne
New Theatre, London, January 5, 1920. The production moved to the Garrick Theatre on February 2.
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|George Marden||Ben Webster|
|Lady Marden||Ethel Griffies|
|Brian Strange||Leslie Howard|
|Carraway Pim||Dion Boucicault|
Olivia Marden had been unlucky in her first marriage–her husband, Jacob Tellworthy, had got mixed up in fraudulent companies, had gone to prison a good deal, and finally had drunk himself to death. At least so Olivia had supposed. But it appeared that Tellworthy had been fraudulent even in his death, for one day a Mr. Pim, absent-minded old dear, turned up and reported casually that he had seen Tellworthy on the boat that had broght him from Australia.
So Olivia was plainly a bigamist, and George Marden, good easy man, could not grasp the fact that such a thing should happen in his family! He seemed far more distressed about what the neighbors would say than about Olivia’s feelings.
Besides, George doesn’t approve of Brian Strange, a rising painter, as a husband for his niece Dinah because he paints triangular clouds and is a Socialist. George believes that right is right and wrong wrong–but he is only too willing to hush up matters, until Olivia quite properly insists that you can’t hush up two husbands.
Of course in the end it appears that Mr. Pim made a mistake, but the complications that ensue enable the matchmaking Olivia to obtain her husband’s consent to the marriage of Dinah and Brian.
“Tastefully staged and brilliantly acted, “Mr. Pim Passes By” received the heartiest of welcomes at the New Theatre last night. Mr. A. A. Milne’s light comedy of conversation has a rather heavy patch of drama; but the players never for a moment take the situation seriously. The alarms and excursions, however, created by “‘ Mr. Pim ” lead up to one of those killing jokes about death that are so dear to the new humorist.
Miss Irene Vanbrugh is at her best as the second wife of a simple country gentleman, who for a long summer day believes her first husband to be alive. She obviously enjoys pulling this simple person’s leg, and finally overwhelms him with his own platitudes in the manner that no audience can resist. And Mr. Ben Webster makes him simple enough without being a simpleton.
As Mr. Pim of most uncertain memory Mr. Dion Boucicault is the stage antediluvian with extruded bandana handkerchief and weeping whiskers that have provoked laughter since the Ark left the Brontosaurus high and dry.
Still, it was the young people’s night out, for they took charge of the action and got away with the lion’s share of the fun. Miss Georgette Cohan danced about like a materialised sunbeam, all smiles and ripples of mischievous merriment.
She had an ideal partner in Mr. Leslie Howard as a Futurist painter without a present, to whom the simple one has conservative objections. For he played with a fine flow of natural high spirits and with the absolute self-confidence that only the young possesses.
Indeed, this jolly pair of lovers awaken sweet memories in the most hardened playgoer.”
(London Daily Mail, January 6, 1920)
“It is a pleasant trifle, playing round the verge of the deeper feelings without tumbling into them, and gay with light-hearted talk. With the young Dinah and Brian the talk becomes chatter, which is appropriate to their age–and, we fancy, a pet weakness of Mr. Milne’s. Anyhow, Miss Cohan and Mr. Leslie Howard are delightful young chatterboxes. The slow, heavy, inarticulate Marden of Mr. Ben Webster is a capital contrast. Mr. Dion Boucicault makes quite an amusing bore of the ancient driveller. Miss Irene Vanbrugh, who bad a tremendous welcome from the house, is, by turns, tender, arch, pathetic, merry, and always delicious.”
(The Times, January 6, 1920)
The comedy is delightfully fresh and never loses its grip or slackens in interest. Miss Vanbrugh scored a big success as did Georgette Cohan (playing “Peter Pan” at matinees on the same stage) and Ethel Griffes who had far too little to do. Among the men Ben Webster (also playing matinees in another new production “His Happy Home” at the Comedy), in a part quite out of his usual line, played valiantly, and Leslie Howard made a hit as the young lover.
(Variety, February 6, 1920)