Love Is Like That

A romantic comedy in three acts by S.N. Behrman and Kenyon Nicholson. Opened at the Cort Theatre, New York City, April 18, 1927, and ran 24 performances. Produced by A.L. Jones and Morris Green by arrangement with Stuart Walker. Staged by Dudley Digges.

Cast of Characters

Maid Della Vanna
Kay Gurlitz Catherine Willard
Graham Delano Edward H. Wever
Mrs. James Gordon Parmenter Lucile Watson
Jesse Hopper John T. Doyle
Kate Mumford Minna Phillips
Cassandra Hopper Ann Davis
Vladimir Dubriski Basil Rathbone
Michael Irshov Charles Richman
Natasha Barbara Bulgakov
Grigori Percy Shostac
Act I Living room of Mrs. Parmenter's House in New York

Act II Mrs. Parmenter's Studio Apartment

Act III Mrs. Parmenter's Studio Apartment

Plot Summary: "Cassandra Hopper, returning from Europe, stops a stowaway from throwing himself overboard. Stowaway turns out to be Prince Vladimir Dubriski, exiled Russian. Cassandra brings him home, to the consternation of her new-rich family and the joy of her friends. The Prince falls in love with her, but her heart is true to Graham Delano, her western sweetheart. Then the prince, to rid himself of an entangling widow, Kay Gurlitz, insists his assumed title is false and that he is only a valet. Kay drops him and he retires heart-shocked but with dignity."1

Below are two promotional photos for the play.

Basil Rathbone
photo by Herman Mishkin

Basil Rathbone
photo by Herman Mishkin

The play's producers, A.L. Jones and Morris Green, were optimistic about the success of Love Is Like That. They had Rathbone sign a contract for the run of the play on Broadway as well as the post-Broadway tour of the play.2 As it turned out, the play was not a hit. It was performed no more than 24 times, and there was no post-Broadway tour. In his review of the play, New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson called it "dreary entertainment."3 On the plus side, Atkinson praised Rathbone's performance.

Theatre magazine's critic wrote, "In the first act of Love Is Like That, 'Prince Vladimir Dubriski' implores 'Cassandra Hopper' for 'some words.' He expressed the audience's plea to the authors, Messrs. S.N. Behrman and Kenyon Nicholson.  . . . Rathbone can't ever be anything but excellent, lucky for the authors."4

Rathbone also received praise in the Encyclopedia of the New York Stage, which described his performance as "smooth." The play, however, was described as second rate, hovering between satire and comedy, and occasionally slipping into farce.5

Cort Theatre

The Cort Theatre playbill

The authors of Love Is Like That had each experienced success with a play--Kenyon Nicholson wrote The Barker and S.N. Behrman wrote The Second Man. Unfortunately, the product of their collaboration was a disappointment to the critics and the public. Theatre Arts magazine reported that the story was "tepid, trite and humorless stuff in spite of Basil Rathbone's stately portrait of the prince."6

The Columbia Daily Spectator described the play as "not much more than fair-to-middling example of the modern society comedy of manners. Love Is Like That concerns a destitute Russian prince, who falls in love with the daughter of an American business man. The girl is also intermittently, the object of the vacillating affections of a young American weakling. Torn between the knowledge that the prince will make her happy, and an unaccountable love for the American, she finally chooses the latter. She. knows it will mean a life of misery and jealousy, but—love is like that. The prince exits as a somewhat saddened silhouette against the blue night sky. While distinctly good in spots, the dialogue loses interest at times, and the rather abrupt shift of the last act from flip comedy to more or less serious consideration of the difficulties of love was a noticeable disappointment to the audience. The presentation gave ample evidence of the capable directorial abilities of Dudley Digges. Basil Rathbone is, as always, charming in the role of the aristocratic foreigner."7

In its review of the play, Variety praised all of the cast members. About Rathbone, the critic wrote, "Basil Rathbone, the featured player, of the late lamented The Captive, made a corking figure as the prince. He is the hero of the play but it was not until the second act was well on its way that he gained audience sympathy. In the end his was tragic romance at its best." It sounds like an excellent review until the last line: "Very well done but just misses."8

Kenyon Nicholson, co-author

S.N. Behrman, co-author


  1. Burns Mantle, ed., The Best Plays of 1926-27 (Dodd, Mead and Co., 1927), p. 509.
  2. "Sign Rathbone for Comedy," New York Times (7 April 1927),  p. 23.
  3. Brooks Atkinson, New York Times (19 April 1927) 
  4. Theatre magazine, Vol. 45-46, 1927
  5. Samuel Leiter, Samuel L. Leiter, Holly Hill, Encyclopedia of the New York Stage, 1920-1930 (Greenwood Pub. Group, 1985) p. 529.
  6. Theater Arts magazine, Vol 11, 1927, p. 406.
  7. "The Native Son," The Columbia Daily Spectator, Volume L, Number 140, 2 May 1927.
  8. "Plays on Broadway," Variety (20 April 1927), p. 48.


Lucile Watson, who played Mrs. Parmenter




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All original content is © Marcia Jessen, 2014