Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Detective Story" Is a Drag

Cleveland Press March 23, 1966

Sidney Kingsley's "Detective Story" is a strong and meaty drama that can hold an audience if it is well paced. But pacing is just what this Karamu presentation doesn't have.

It walks when it should be running, crawls when it should walk. Pauses between speeches are often excruciatingly slow.

Since the company seemed to be well versed in its lines one can only assume that this leisurely pacing is deliberate.

Kingsley's drama is a sociological one for all of its melodramatic moments, but there is hardly a speech in the play worth lingering over.

The entire action of the play takes place over three hours in the detective squad room of a New York precinct police station.

AN ASSORTMENT of characters wander through, each with his own moment of drama. Dominating this string of subplots is the main drama of a detective whose vindictiveness and whose setting himself up as judge and jury of every man he arrests is almost paranoidal.

His determination to punish an abortionist leads to his own destruction when he discovers his own wife was once mixed up with the man.

Last night's presentation was best when it offered the smaller vignettes -- the antic behavior of two burglars (Bob Washnitzer and David L. Coleman), the comic confusion of a spinster who has suddenly turned shoplifter (Marji Dodrill), or the hopelessness of a young embezzler and his girl (Jim Wilcher and Nola Hughes).

IN THESE lesser bits of action the play has moments of rough and ready humor and insight into human frailties.

The main drama is that of Detective McLeod and his wife (J. Herbert Kerr Jr. and Gloria Parker). Kerr starts out so intently that there is little room for further development in the character except to overact.

The parting scene of husband and wife is horribly long and drawn out and the result is more fizzle than fire