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no. 436

Saturday, 21 January 2006

Marie Tempest and Graham Browne
in Cyril Harcourt's play, A Lady's Name,
Maxine Elliott's Theatre, New York, 15 May 1916

A Lady's Name, 1916

'A man's heart is not always won by way of the stomach, for in A Lady's Name
Noel Corcoran (Graham Browne) finds himself in love with Mabel Vere (Marie Tempest)
In spite of the fact that she has just cooked an extremely bad dinner.'

A scene from A Lady's Name, Maxine Elliott's Theatre, New York, 15 May 1916.

(photo: White, New York, 1916)

'Marie Tempest in the role of a make believe cook is as bewitching as in any of the other parts which have delighted New York this winter.
'Such is her vehicle for comedy (or farce) in A Lady's Name, the much delayed piece by Cyril Harcourt now produced at Maxine Elliott's theatre.
'This English playwright is remembered her principally for his delightful piece, A Pair of Silk Stockings, which ran all last season at the Little theater.
'Mabel Vere is a novelist who believes in getting her material from life, her own life. So she advertises for a husband.
'She signs her advertisement "Miss X (she is called "Exie" by one of the aspirants) and soon has plenty of things on her hands.
'From the applicants for her favor, she selects a butler and he invites her to a cup of tea in the servant's quarters.
'This had a dreadful effect on the cook, in love with the butler, and her case of hysterics leaves Miss Vere to prepare the meal.
'While she is peeling the potatoes and letting several dishes burn on the stove the master comes down and assists.
'He is an amiable employer and several days later of course, asks the lady novelist to become his wife.
'On this light basis, Mr. Hardcourt [sic] has built up a host of amusing incidents, just the kind Miss Tempest uses to the best advantage with her twinkling eye.'
'The playing of her associates is also admirable. Stanley Harrison was the butler, Daisy Belmore the cook, Berley Mercer the kitchen maid and Ruth Draper the languorous parlor maid.
'Graham Browne, Rex MacDougall, Harry Lambert and Algernon Greig were also entertaining.'
(The Lincoln Daily Star, Lincoln, Nebraska, 21 May 1916, News and Editorial section: Music, Theatres and Motion Pictures, p.6d)

'Marie Tempest is quite a comedy delight in her latest play, A Lady's Name. the idea of a woman who knows nothing about culinary work descending into a strange kitchen and cooking a dinner and making herself agreeable to the servants - all because she is searching for material for a new novel - suggests possibilities for laughs, and Miss Tempest takes advantage of all of them. The play is what reviewers call "thin," but when Miss Tempest's merriment causes her eyes to contract into mere crescent-moon shapes, while she thoughtfully opens her mouth and draws it down into an elongated "O" shape as she scratches her cheek with one forefinger, you have to laugh. Her remarks are as staccato as ever, and she dresses with that Parisian chic for which she has always been famous. Even when enveloped in a kitchen apron, she cannot conceal the fact that she is a model of fashion. Too often actresses experience difficulty in convincing people that they known something about "style" and the best dressmakers, but I believe Marie Tempest was born with a sense of what to wear and how to wear it. Even her hair is always arranged to perfection. It always seems to have the attention of an expert hairdresser. I think I can truthfully say that Miss Tempest and Fritzi Scheff are the only two actresses of recent years who possess this art of appearing perfectly gowned with perfect ease.
'That was one reason why I did not approve of Miss Tempest in Rosalind, for she was supposed to appear as a lineless, lolling woman, one revelling in a sense of middle-age in a wrapper, old slippers and hair done any way. Miss Tempest simply could not suggest any of those things, although she wore the wrapper - yes, and carried out the playwright's instructions.
'Miss Tempest brings to any play in which she appears a personality so bubbling over with good humor and quick wit tht it is easy to understand her popularity in New York. No comedy point escapes her. She has a spending leading man in W. Graham Browne, who, they tell me, is a very likable fellow off-stage and is fast making friends.'
(Marie B. Schrader, The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 3 June 1916, p.4c)

* * * * * * * *

A Lady's Name, which was originally produced at the Princess Theatre, Montreal, on 1 May 1916, was first seen in London as Wanted, a Husband at the Playhouse on 9 May 1917, with Gladys Cooper as Mabel Vere and Malcolm Cherry as Captain Noel Corkoran.

* * * * * * * *

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