The Cottage Players, who have some fine productions to their credit, chose unwisely in “Housemaster,” which they produced at Orpington Church Hall on Thursday and Saturday in aid of the Greater London Fund for the Blind.

The audience did not think so. I have never heard a play so interrupted by applause. There was applause for entrances and exits, applause for individual speeches of more than a line or two, and just plain applause. But it is not altogether safe to regard this reception as a criterion of the dramatic achievement of hte company; audiences have a habit of clapping because htey like people personally. They are uncritical, and to a stranger it often appears that they clap not because the acting is good, but because their friends can act at all.

I admire the courage of the Cottage Players, for they chose in “Housemaster” a play which needs a particularly assorted cast. Most amateur companies are in the same position as far as casting goes as a stock company; a stock company could ot have produced the play in question successfully. However, apart from obvious lack of the necessary types, and occasions when players either dried up completely or dragged their cues, the performance was enjoyable enough. I enjoyed particularly the way the players picked their way among the crowded furniture on the stage, which is hardly big enough for such a complicated set.

Mr. George Waller, who produced, evidently concentrated on a straightforward production such as Ian Hay’s plays demand. He had in his cast one or two youngsters, and they not only shewed promise, but were in most cases more at home than their elders. Tom Weller, as Bimbo Faringdon, was a pretty average schoolboy; William Leach did well with “Flossie” Nightingale, the sixth-form intellectual we all remember from our school-days, but a decent fellow withal; and Geoffrey Fitzgerald was endearing.

The trio of cosmopolitan girls whose introduction to the monastic calm of a boys’ school causes all the trouble were conscientious actresses. I thought “Button” was a little young for a role which necessitated the frequent use of “darling” and the consumption of cocktails; but Brenda Fitzgerald put plenty of spirit into her work. Beckie Collier got, perhaps, nearest to the author’s intention in her portrayal of Rosemary, infusing a little dash and harmless naughtiness into the part. Phyllis Ford backed her up in a dependable fashion as her no less sophisticated sister.

The masters were led by Cyril Fitzgerald, whose Charles Donkin was one of the best performances of the evening —quite humorous, kindly yet inflexible as a good pedagogue should be. Arthur Reynolds and William Algar provided other contrasting tyes, and Harry Reeves had a good vision of what the retiring Philip de Pourville should have been. The latter was a nicely restrained piece of understatement—the sort of understatement that the man’s character evidently was.

Other performances worthy of note were Frank Harris as the “Head,” the role being played as a marked caricature; Elinor Collier, cast in a “natural” as the matron; and George Waller in a portrayal of the typical stage politician, pompous and attitudinising. Two of the cast, Arthur Reynolds and Frank Harris, were responsible ofr a good though inexpensive mounting; and Mrs. Twyman provided entr’acte music.