Delving profoundly into the depths of psychological analysis Philip Barry has constructed an absorbing and highly intelligent problem drama, "Bright Star" which is now enjoying a short Boston run at the Plymouth prior to Tuesday's New York opening. Although quite completely absorbed in the problem which he has created Mr. Barry has studded his work with a steady dialogue flow of straight forward, crisp and frequently midriff-striking lines. The problem none the less, is the thing.
Quin Hanna (Lee Tracy) has driven himself into the mayorality of a small New England town. Brilliant, forceful, a man of action and success he has also driven himself up the social scale to marriage with Hope Blake (Julie Haydon). Hope is madly in love with Hanna but he cannot summon a similar depth of affection for her. He is too absorbed in his own success, too completely egocentric to be capable of love even towards a girl whom he admires and respects as much as he does Hope. Kate Hastings and Sam Biddle, old journalist associates of Hanna realize that this marriage has no good for either Hanna or Hope but they are unable to dissuade him. Thus the problem is posed; can a man who is driven by a burning ambition for success and utter inability to share his individuality with anyone make happy marriage with a quiet loving virtuous, unambitious woman. Mr. Bary's answer is an unhesitating "no" and his play rives on to the inevitable tragedy. Hanna realizes that he can exist only for himself that he cannot make the compromise with his inner self which marriage necessitates. This problem is worked out with skill and directness but in so doing Mr. Barry frequently forgets that his characters are human and cannot be shunted about like chess-men. There is an abstract mechanical quality to the play, an over emphasis of problem and serious disregard of essential human complexities. Few human beings can be resolved into one dominant characteristic and this is what happens to the people of "Bright Star".
Happily the manuscript is animated by some of the most vivid and skilfull acting imaginable. Julie Haydon, always a bit other worldly maintains a quietly beautiful emotional intensity which charms and excites. Le Tracy is admirably cast as the dynamic, self seeking Hanna is thoroughly at home and given a rousingly god performance in the Tracy manner. Jean Dixon who has lately been endearing herself to cinema fans scores a highly successful performance setting off her dry sophistication with an array of the very best lines. Mr. Hopkins, we think has another success on his hands.