Opening Night Cast
Gladys Boot / Lady Caroline Smith
George Curzon/ Beecham
Diane Hart / Bessie
Mary Hinton / The Countess of Lister
Hugh Kelly / Lord Pym
Tom Macaulay / Mr. Cleghorn
A. E. Matthews / The Earl of Lister (Lord Lieutenant )
Elaine Stritch / June Farrell
Yes, M'Lord (by W. Douglas Home; produced by Lee & J. J. Shubert and Linnit & Dunfee Ltd. by arrangement with John Krimsky) is one of those comedies that are blatantly British and otherwise quiet as mice. Treating of a titled family that has almost gone broke and an England that has gone Labor, it couldn't be more concerned with politics or less concerned about them.
The unperturbed Earl of Lister shoots rabbits, his unruffled countess keeps ducks, and Tony, their nonchalant heir, after losing a seat in Parliament as a Conservative candidate, promptly tries again as a Laborite. This is too much for the family's fiercely Tory butler, who stands against Tony and wins the election. But it is one thing, of course, for a butler of the old school to stand in such circumstances, and quite another for him to sit.
A hazy film of satire, or at any rate of spoofing, hangs over Yes, M'Lord. But in general Playwright Home seems to have done his best to make everything as inconsequential as possible. The play's weakness is not so much that it is trivial, as that it grows tiresome; its scenes are all played twice, including some (like Tony's with the parlormaid) that shouldn't be played at all. But there are compensations: some bright nonsensical chatter, some skillful British acting. As the butler. George Curzon. though effective, has himself rather too good a time. As the earl, 79-year-old Veteran A. E. Matthews is brilliantly unemphatic. expertly throwing away a great many lines that the author refused to.
from the Harvard Crimson (http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=192161)
At the Wilbur
Published: Thursday, February 09, 1950
by David L. Ratner
A Friend informed me after night's performance of "Yes M'Lord" that the play was humorless and dull. Therefore I enter the reservation that those who aren't addicted to English drawing room comedies won't like this one. The rest of this review is solely for those fortunate few who are.
There is one important feature that distinguishes this production from most other comedies. It has A. E. Matthews. This man is a magnificent bumbler. His bumbling is troublesome in the first act, stimulating in the second, and ingratiating in the third. The eighty-year old actor, portraying a somewhat senile carl who is concerned mainly with shooting marauding rabbits, quietly dominates the action. His bumbling is perfected, the slope of his back is eloquent, and his sage unconcern with mundane matters cannot become tiresome. Aside from his unfortunate tendency to esh his esses, Matthews distributes his lines with the precision of a younger man.
The plot, and the form of the drawing room comedy demands a plot, dabbles in polities. But it is generally frothy, and could be revised or dropped without much ill effect.
George Curzon is a butler, and he buttles as English, theater butlers have buttled for years. This small group of highly specialized performers has its system codified, and the butler's actions under any circumstances can be predicted very accurately. But if the circumstances are eleverly contrived, and in this case they are, the butler is a valuable man man to have on the stage.
In drawing room comedies, there is always one minor character who is extremely annoying. Usually it is and American, who is supplied with a pile of Yankee idiom and a vicious accent and who distributes these to the audience with magnanimity. But "Yes M'Lord" 's American is a girl and relatively well behaved, and Elaine Stritch brings enough, restraint to the role to excuse her occasional moralizing. She is part of a generally excellent cast.