Emlyn Williams' partly auto-biographical drama. "The Corn Is Green." remains a touching, pertinent play, and the Hartke Theater has found some acceptable players for its run through Dec. 11.
Prim, purposeful Miss Moffat has come to a remote Welsh village with a modest inheritance. She intends to teach mining children something of a world denied them in the darkness of their tunnels and illiteracy. One of them. Morgan Evans, proves exceptionally imaginative. By battling entrenched thinking and taking on a responsibility she does not want, Miss Moffat gets him a scholarship to Oxford.
The period is the turn of the century, and while conditions for mining children, university scholarships and illegitimate babies have changes vastly, Williams' narrative is not irrelevent. So small a personal adventure as this helped bring changes, and the young still need sacrifices from their elders.
Miss Moffat is a striking role, and Nan Rickert, a former Catholic University student, is both mature and resourceful enough for it. Sybil Thorndyke created it in England in 1935 and a few years later it revived the then fading career of Ethel Barrymore. Bette Davis did the movie version. Bette Davis did the movie version in 1945, and nearly 30 years later acted in the stage musical, "Miss Moffat." which used an American South setting and, expired during its Philadelphia tryout. The part requires firmness and wit; most of the time Rickert is equal to he challenge.
Charley Lang is outstanding as Evans, a tiptop portrait of growth from adolescence to manhood. His scenes, especially in describing the world of Oxford, have biting conviction. When Lang is her partner, Rickert does her best work, both using pithy retivence to create probing, moving scenes. There also is good work by Theresa Karanik as the ignorant but teaches Miss Moffat a lesson in humanity.
When she doesn't bear down on the obvious, Teddy Handfield's staging is effective, but Miss Moffat's flirtation scence with the reluctant squire is badly overdone. Charles Clark's squire is always a caricature, never a character who, like the others, does change over the three-year period. Paul Rubin, Christi Warnick and Sally Ruth Philbin head the large supporting cast. The efforts for authentic accents is not too painful, Clark's squire a hammy execption.