“Any Night.”

37 Mins.; One, Three and Full Stage. With three special scenes and a cast of nine characters, one or two of which are unimportant through necessary (and probably filled by supers), “Any Night,” one of the series of sensational short sketches shown at the Princess Theatre, is at Hammerstein’s. It’s a tale of the underworld, in this instance a possibility well knitted together into a rather importable chain, but nevertheless a possibility, and because of this, the more interesting. The cast embraces among its more important types a street walker, openly and rather baldly referred to as a “hustler,” a policeman of the brand that flourished before the Whiteman regime, a “respectable souse” and a pair of sinning youngsters. A hotel clerk, porter and a pedestrian and fireman also assisted, the two latter undoubtedly doubling, although evidencing some activity behind the scenes. The opening shows a street before a drop depicting a Raines Law hotel. The policeman and “hustler” discuss conditions, the former showing an unusual interest in the latter’s welfare. The conversation disclosed the fact that tuberculosis has been added to the girl’s lot. A comedy vein runs through her light reference to the inevitable end. The young man follows on, luring Miss Innocence to her first misstep. Then comes to “hustler’s” first “client,” the souse. The quartet enter the hotel, the interior of which comes in the second scene. The process of registering brings more comedy to the surface. The third and final scene is the bedroom occupied by the souse and his “wife,” the finale coming with a fire which threatens the building, the firemen’s arrival and their accompanying clatter and noise. The elderly souse and Miss Innocence come face to face in the excitement, and being father and child, both realizing their sin, etc., remain to perish in the flames. The “raw” situation occurs with the opening and its ensuring dialog in which the social problem is openly discussed and pictured, possibly a bit strong, although the producers evidently infer that the moral lesson contained in the theme proper atones for whatever violation of decency takes place during the action of the piece. Helen Hilton as the street walker was quite good. James Edwards as the policeman was a bit too refined in action and speech for a copper with the experience his arms stripes designated. Lorin J. Howard as the drunk was acceptable in that section of his duty, though overdoing, but his dramatic period was lost through inferior handling. Howard handled a climax much as he would a comedy point, and because of this the finale suffered and was only lifted through the timely arrival of the scenic illusion at the end of showing the fire. And in this blaze there was considerably more smoke than fire. But regardless of the existing minor faults, “Any Night” is a good feature for Hammerstein’s, where plays of this calibre can hold up. As a standard vaudeville attraction, it’s impossible. It closed the Hammerstein’s program.
Variety, Volume XXXVI, no.7, October 17, 1914