Bobby Clark as Bob Acres pauses to think about the duel he has gotten himself into. Eva Le Gallienne directed this Theatre Guild production, with songs, of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's comedy. Mary Boland was Mrs. Malaprop; Walter Hampden, Sir Anthony Absolute. At the end of his career Clark said Bob Acres had been his favorite part. 54 performances.
Fred Fehl: Clark was always running about, always moving. It was very difficult to catch him.
Walter Kerr: In The Rivals he got laughs mainly by visual business. I don't know if I've ever laughed quite so hard - well, maybe at Buster Keaton films - as I did at Bobby in the letter-writing scene. He's being made to issue a challenge, and he's trying to dash it off, to be heroic about the whole thing. He had this tiny pen, and the tricks he played with the quill pen and the ink pot and the parchment! I can't tell you what they are now; I don't remember them in detail. But they were absolutely fascinating and simply hilarious. So without saying a word for about five minutes he had the audience screaming.
Q: That wouldn't happen nowadays.
Kerr: Who can do it? Who can do it? People aren't being trained in it anymore. Thrown into a situation, they can't stand there and do it all by themselves. Beatrice Lillie is out of commission now; she could do it and was doing it within my period of reviewing.
photograph by Fred Fehl reprinted from On Broadway. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1978.