Our Mr. Hepplewhite, 1919
Our Mr. Hepplewhite by Gladys Unger
Criterion Theatre, London
April 3, 1919
|Meta Pelham||Keturah, Countess of Lamberhurst|
|Mary Moore||Ernestine, Lady Bagley|
|Kate Cutler||Marchesa Di Candia|
|Mary Merrall||The Hon. Jane Bagley|
|Violet Graham||Miss Adela Hacks|
|Joan Pereira||Mrs. Appenzell|
|Dawson Milward||The Earl of Lamberhurst|
|Gerald McCarthy||The Hon. Adrian Dalgieish|
|A. Bromley Davensport||Sir Nicholan Parritt|
|Leslie Howard||Lord Bagley|
|Arthur Wontner||Mr. Herbert Hepplewhite|
Miss Mary Moore returns to the stage in an entirely appropriate part in an entirely merry little comedy. She is a matron (variety: impecunious grande dame) with a manner, a lap-dog, innumerable smart gowns, and two remarkably, troublesome children. Her son is a young man who takes a hansom from the Strand to the uttermost parts of Surrey “to revive a dying industry'” (and because railway fares have to be paid in advance); her daughter secretly engages herself to the manager of a Regent street furniture shop in order to escape from the tediousness of the “swell” set and to enjoy the simple life. When the cat is out of the bag mamma, in order to gain time, invites our Mr. Hepplewhite down to Bagley Towers, and telegraphs to the rest of the family (hence, inter alia, the hansom) for help. She knows, you see; from novels and plays, that the best way of getting rid of an undesirable suitor is to let him make a fool of himself in an unfamiliar set.
But the biter is bit. Our Mr. Hepplewhite, fertile in resource, wins every member of the family to his side; lends money to one, writes a prospectus for another, promises a directorship for a third, flatters the vanity of a fourth. Finally he conquers mamma herself by helping her in a business deal. She can “bear anything!” (even the news of her son’s marriage to a chorus girl) ” with a lump sum down.” So our Mr. Hepplewhite, originally a mere “person” (“‘I thought he looked tired ” “My child, he can’t look anything; he’s a person “), becomes dear Herbert. But there is a surprise in store for dear Herbert himself. Mamma’s, changed mind changes the daughter’s ‘mind. She adored dear Herbert that he might release her from her famnily, not reconcile her to it. Now she loves him no longer. Herbert, too, ceases to love her when, he finds himself required. by the family to give up the shop. So they each pair off with other nice young sweethearts who happen to be handy.
It is all very diverting fun, this little comedy of Miss Ungers, rippling with wit, punctuated with ludicrous situations, and rich in drollery of character. Miss Moore is quiet in her drollery, shy, unconscious–the silly woman who says shrewd things without knowing it– altogether a most agreeable piece of comedy acting. Then there is Miss Kate Cutler, smart and ” dry ” as ever, and Mr. Dawson Millward, as an old bore but always – a distinguished bore, and Mr. Leslie Howartd languidly droll as the hero of the hansom. Mr. Arthur Wontner as the shopman, earnest, ambitious, practical in the shop, sentimental out of it, keeps the whole thing together. But perhaps the happiest performance of’all is Miss Mary Merrall’s as the shopman’s capricious fiancée. She has to be everything by turns and nothing long– romantically exalted, petulant, teasing, raging, cajoling, in hysterics–and she does it all cleverly, naturally, charmingly.
(The Times, April 4, 1919)