National Theatre - Washington DC - December 18-December 23, 1933
Martin Beck Theatre - New York
Premiere: December 26, 1933-February 1934
As Kate described: "It's a story of a woman's last chance at marriage (she was in her late twenties). And on her own driveway - just after the wedding ceremony - the car in which the couple are driving skids and turns into the lake, the bridegroom pinned unter the car. And he drowns. Much drama. The true-blue bridegroom gone. The weak married man with whom she has been playing around is lurking."
Brooks Atkinson - The New York Times
"There is no point in pursuing Miss Hepburn with her limitations as a dramatic actress. The simple fact is that as a result of her sensational achievements on screen she has been projected into a stage part that requires more versatility than she has had time to develop. She still needs considerable training, especially for a voice that has unpleasant timbre."
Robert Berchley - The New Yorker
"Not a great actress, by any manner of means, but one with a certain distinction which, with training; might possible take the place of great acting in an emergency."
What Kate had to say
Katharine Hepburn - Me - 1991
"We are going to Chicago [said by Joe Glick, the company manager]. I couldn't believe my ears. 'What?' 'Jed is taking the play to Chicago.' 'But they don't like it. They certainly don't like me. And we've paid off. Why?' Joe shrugged. 'Money.' 'Oh.' Joe left my dressing room. He couldn't think of anything else to say. And neither could I. I went home. What to do? I'd made a fool of myself in New York. But why broadcast it by touring? Some kind soul send me a clipping of the front page of a Chicago paper: 'Chicago audiences are going to have the misfortune of having to look at Katharine Hepburn in The Lake.' I troubled about it for a week or so, then one night about 3 a.m. I called Jed at home. I' not seen hide or hair of him since the opening. 'Jed?' 'Yes.' 'Kate.' 'Oh.' A silence. 'I understand that you are planning to send us on the road. Chicago.' 'Yes.' 'But, Jed, why?' I was roasted - but let's face it - so were you. Why send it out to-' An interruption. 'My dear, the only interest I have in you is the money I can make out of you.' Plain talk, I thought.
'How much?' 'How much have you got?' I reached for my bankbook which I kept in the bookcase next to my bed. 'I have thirteen thousand six hundred and seventy-five dollars and seventy-five cents in the Chase National Bank.' 'I will take it.' 'I'll send you a check in the morning.' And that was that. I send him the check. And when the receipts dwindled to a nonprofit point, we closed."
What fellow actors, the director and friends had to say
It is in this play The Lake that the famous lines: 'The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower. I carried them on my wedding day. And now I place them there, in memory of someone who is dead.' - are said. Kate was self-deprecating enough to use the very same lines again 3 years later in Stage Door (1937).This time not for a dead husband but a dead friend and actress.
The Lake furnished Katharine Hepburn her first major Broadway role and was produced and directed by the legendary 'big bad wolf' of the theatre, Jed Harris [Lawrence Olivier used Jed Harris as his model for Richard III - a terrifying creature. Source Katharine Hepburn - Me - 1991] It was Hepburn's performance in this play which prompted Dorothy Parker's famously scathing remark that: 'Hepburn ran the gamut of emotions from A to B.' In spite of lukewarm reviews, the play had a respectable run.
Katharine Hepburn in particular drew sharp rebukes in the newspapers, many of which were penned by the same critics who loved her in The Warrior's Husband.
The most famous remark was said by Dorothy Parker ' She runs the garmut from A to B'.
[Webmasters note: The same Dorothy Parker who, said to Garson Kanin after he had asked her Ė why Katharine Hepburn was a favorite of hers. 'I thought you didn't like her.' 'Me?' said Dorothy Parker. 'I don't think there's a finer actress anywhere.' But what about 'all the way from A to B?' Garson Kanin asked Dorothy Parker. 'Or didnít you say it? Or do you think she improved?' Dorothy Parker sighed, 'Oh, I said it all right. You know how it is. A joke.' 'When people expect you to say things and you say things. Isn't it the way it is.']
Source: Garson Kanin - An Intimate Memoir - 1971
Jed Harris, who later admitted [to Leland Howard] trying to ruin her professionally by pushing her to do things against her own instinct; the play was a failure and she was blamed.
Katharine Houghton - New York Times - October 30, 2007
"It made the theater a terrifying place. 'The Lake was such a horrible experience for her,' 'She was sure that the audience was her enemy.'"