"Yes, My Darling Daughter," by Mark Reed is a constantly and intensely amusing study of what happens when Greek meets Roman, or when innovators and liberal thinkers throw in their lot with more staid and conventional livers. The comedy is perhaps principally one of situation, but this does not keep the characters from being creditable and highly interesting.
"Hang your clothes on a hickory limb, but don't go near the water" the sequel to the play's title, represents the reluctance with which the mother in the story, author, lecturer, feminist, and graduate of Greenwich Village, grants permission to her impetuous daughter to go away on a clandestine week-end with the young man she loves but cannot yet marry. This daughter is bidding fair to be fully as enlightened as her mother was, for it is she who suggested the week-end.
The mother has mellowed some since her rapturous and highly-opinionated youth, and so she is opposed to the project. But she is embarrassed into inglorious submission when the daughter reads her a poetic account of the mother's life of some twenty years ago with an enthusiastic young Communist. It appears that the girl has been writing a thesis in college on the contribution of Greenwich Village to freedom in American literature and morals, and incidentally delving into her mother's racy past. The latter soon has company in her embarrassment, however, because the partner of her ecstatic adventure, who also wrote the poem describing it, is in the house on a reminiscent visit, now being an international literary agent.
The other two men in the story, however, are too orthodox to live in complete harmony with such spontaneous unrepresed people. The father, a Dutch banker, tries very hard to be broad-minded, but he can't quite make the grade. The moral behavior of the girl's "uh--friend," as the banker describes him, is the most delightfully surprising of all, even though it may be the hardest to reconcile with the idea of a real, consistent personality.
This conflict between ultra-modernity and Victorian morality, thought far from a new theme, is handled with such winning freshness and gentle sophistication, and such fascinating situations and characters rise out of the melee that extraordinary entertainment is guaranteed.
Lucile Watson is wondrously wise and imperturbable as the mother with career and past. Violet Heming is duly volatile and saccharine as a sister-in-law who is a pioneer in another field; that of making annual pilgrimages to Reno, Nevada. Nicholas Joy is perfectly suave and self-possessed as the ex-Communist poet. Haila Stoddard, making her debut in the part of the darling daughter, proves herself a highly capable actress and creates great expectations.