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Mystery Play Of Civic Group Well-Liked

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Mystery Play Of Civic Group Well-Liked

By Vivian Case

The first of the public productions this season by the Civic Amateur theater was “Drums of Death,” a mystery play given last night in the Pattengill auditorium, before an audience that filled the center of the auditorium and which appeared well pleased with the play and with its interpretation.

Starting out as a mystery play with all the thrills and gruesome details, it becomes at psychological moments a comedy with the sheriff, in the person of G. Davis Sellards of Brooklyn Ave. providing laugh after laugh. Quite satisfied with his ability to "get the case cleared up in half-an-hour or so,” Sheriff Newton Cooper blunders around hilariously, committing every one of the mistakes to be expected, escaping death from poisoned darts every few minutes until they "really make him mad,” and finally deciding to give it up just before rescuing police and fire departments are sent by his girl friend Myrtle, known to the audience only in his telephone conversations with her.

Tells Stories

The sheriff's stories of the wisecracks made by Myrtle and the completely natural and spontaneous guffaws that almost choke him, are simply unforgettable.

The two character parts, that of the sheriff and that of Celeste, the octoroon servant, done by Mrs. C. E. Vlisides of Sheehan Ave., are the best of the play, both in their presentation and in their relation to the story. Mrs. Vlisides moves about mysteriously and demurely and does her trance scenes with convincing mystery.

The "determined relative” character, done skilfully by Mrs. D. G. Meikle of E. Huron St. as the vanished Mr. Bailey’s sister, is one of three relative roles, the others played by Mrs. Marshall Snyder of Michigan Ave. and Mrs. Harold Barth of Edgewood Ave., which call for frequent fainting and escaping death by seconds. The role of a fourth relative who helps to unravel the mystery is done by Miss Leona Walling, who is hypnotized by Celeste.

In Other Roles

Other roles, interpreted with skill also, are those of the housekeeper, played by Miss Miriam Moore of E. Jefferson St.; of the manager of the Bailey property who turns out to be a secret service man, played by Verling Pierson of Wells St.; of the faithful Negro servant, done by William O’Neil of W. Jefferson St.; and of the villain and midnight visitor, interpreted by Michael Massa of S. State St.

High point of the shivers shows the housekeeper in a sleepwalking act with a glimmering lantern, Jules the servant hiding under a couch; and Celeste in her trance. High point of the comedy is Mr. Sellards telling about Myrt.

Ben F. Howard directed the play and Mrs. W. Keene Jackson assisted.