Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Play House Cast Proves Old Comedy Revives Well

Cleveland Press November 18, 1967

Aware that there is an audience over 25 as well as under, the Play House last night revived Paul Osborne's "Morning's At Seven," a warm and touching comedy about that other generation, the older one.

The show is running in the Drury Theater where audiences will find it handsomely presented by a group of veteran actors who know more than just a thing or two about putting over a performance.

Not a modern generation gap play, which is a staple of theater comedy today, Osborne's 1939 work dealt only with characters up in years yet observed in them the awkwardness and tactlessness that can go with age as well as with youth.

"MORNING'S AT SEVEN" is about a pair of neighboring households. Most of the people are related and are in their 60's or 70's with the exception of the play's love interest, ages 38 and 40, a couple engaged for seven years, going together for 12 all together because the young man isn't about to rush into anything.

In one house live Theodore and Cora Swanson and Cora's unmarried sister, Aaronetta. In the other live another sister, Ida Bolton, her husband Carl and their 40-year-old son Homer.

And up the street a bit there's the fourth sister, Esther, whose husband forbids her to visit with her sisters because he figures they're all morons. And then along comes Myrtle, the girl friend meeting the family for the first time in all those years.

Though several crises develop, playwright Osborne manages to iron them out with a mixture of humor and sentiment as he proves that growing old gracefully is not always easy.

Dorothy Paxton is wonderful as Esther, the only sister with real sense, in a characterization that has just enough detachment about it to give a picture of stability in all this chaos.

HELEN Watkins, who was Ida in 1941 and 1946 productions of the play, is perfect as she repeats the role of a sister whose grasp of a problem is consistently off center.

Edith Owen is believable as Cora, the sister with a new determination and so is Janet Owens as the busy-body spinster.

Clarence Kavanaugh makes a welcome return to the Play House as Carl, the brother subject to spells, registers his perplexity without overdoing it. Richard Oberlin extracts a good deal of humor out of the role of a man put upon by two women.

David Snell and Elizabeth Lowry are properly awkward and shy as the aging young lovers and Keith Mackey is perfect as Esther's overbearing-husband.

JONATHAN Bolt directed the play with more emphasis on the humor in the show than the sentiment. The result is that the laughs are probably heartier in this production while sympathy is at a minimum.

Paul Rodgers continues to excel with his elaborate and handsome stage setting.