Outward Bound, 1924
OUTWARD BOUND, a play in three acts by Sutton Vane. Produced by William Harris Jr., directed by Robert Milton.
Ritz Theatre, New York – January 9, 1924
|Mr. Prior||Alfred Lunt|
|Mrs. Cliveden-Banks||Charlotte Granville|
|Rev. William Duke||Lyonel Watts|
|Mrs. Midget||Beryl Mercer|
|Mr. Lingley||Eugene Powers|
|Rev. Frank Thompson||Dudley Digges|
Most of the first night’s audience knew very well what “Outward Bound” was about, yet they sat breathless–thrilled and fascinated to the final curtain. But I am aware that preferences in this matter are sometimes very decided–and hence this warning.
Mr. Vane reverses the usual procedure. Instead of introducing an intruder from the Undiscovered Country (whence, as Hamlet inexplicably remarks, no traveler returns), he transports us into the midst of the ghostly throng. […] He makes the ghosts themselves ignorant of the fact that they are dead. One sees a varied group of quite mundane people disquieted at something vaguely unfamiliar in their ship and voyage, troubled by a growing mystery, and finally convinced that they are crossing a modern Styx on a modern ferry–face to face with the solemn terror of the hereafter.
So far as the character comedy is concerned, it amply sustains the comparison [with “The Passing of the Third Floor Back”] — thanks to Mr Vane’s skill and to the perfect cast which William Harris Jr. has provided. Alfred Lunt plays a defeated and sodden university graduate, bitter and ashamed in his heart yet wittily amiable. Beryl Mercer plays his mother, a cockney bording-house keeper who has become a char-woman in consequence of his extravagances. The scene in which these two recognize each other, yet keep up the convenient pretense of being strangers, is profoundly beautiful and moving. Even more poignantly appealing are a pair of unhappy lovers who have attempted suicide together. They hover always on the outskirts of the ship’s company, torn by a special anguish and conscious of a special degradation. As played by Margalo Gillmore and Leslie Howard, they have a purity and intensity of suffering quite Dantesque. They mark the spiritual pinnacle of the play. Also […] they furnish, if not a happy ending, yet a note of hope and courage at the close, which is intrinsically far better.
(John Corbin, The New York Times, January 13, 1924)
William Harris, Jr., has made the production with a cast that approaches as closely to the all-star calibre as you will find in fifty theatres. Alfred Lunt, always an actor of unusual abllity, has here a role which he fills to perfection—one replete with grim jests, but nevertheless one which provides him, in addition, with the chance to do some really exceptional and true-ringing emotional work.
Beryl Mercer, our recent “Queen Victoria”, Dudley Digges, J. M. Korrigan, Charlotte Granvllle, Lyonel Watts, Eugene Powers, Leslie Howard and Margalo Gillmore, who comprise the rest of the company, give performances of marked appeal. Mr. Howard and Miss Gillmore have hardly a line until the last scene of the play, but their roles are highly important withal.
(Daily Star, January 10, 1924)
“Outward Bound” by Sutton Vane, an English actor, has been produced by William Harris Jr., in a manner convincing beyond that seen for many a day. Probably no recent play has paraded a more competent cast; J. M. Kerrigan, the exquisite Margalo Gillmore, delightful Leslie Howard, Alfred Lunt, hourly growing in force and talent, Charlotte Granville, Beryll Mercer, lately the impressive “Queen Victoria”, and the veteran Dudley Digges.
Aside from the compelling theme, a production has been given which is well night perfect in the unmistakable manner of Robert Milton’s direction.
(Lucy Jeanne Price, Lockport Union-Sun and Journal, January 13, 1924)
The acting was splendid, consummate, perfect. The outstanding characterizations were those of Alfred Lunt, Beryl Mercer, Eugene Powers, Lyonel Watts and J. M. Kerrigan, and the acting of Margalo Gillmore, Leslie Howard, and DudleyDiggs are not thereby eclipsed.
“Outward Bound” is undoubtedly the best acted play now running, and the indications are that it is bound for a voyage for an unknown period of time.
(The Brooklyn Standard Union, January 8, 1924)