The Playgoer

At the Plymouth

"The Fourposter" is a mild comedy which covers a period of 35 years without leaving the bedroom of the two actors, a man and his wife. From this brief description one might assume two things: it is a dull and dirty play. I am pleased to report that it is neither.

The two actors involved in this production are Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, man and wife on and off the stage, and it is largely through their work that this play achieves its effectiveness. For them, the author, Jan de Hertog, has fashioned an amusing vehicle that wanders aimlessly through the years, catching the couple on their wedding night and following them to what appears to be old age, 35 years later.

He has written in a homey manner, a "Life With Father" style which is clever yet completely devoid of sophistication. Growing old is the theme, but there is no plot as such. Throughout the six scenes there is a string of incidents such as the first late date of a son, a mother's reaction to her daughter's marriage, a husband's fears before his wife gives birth.

These are ordinary occasions, and yet they are so cleverly handled that the audience is continually chuckling. It is a heavy burden for only two people, but it is doubtful that two more capable actors could be found. Miss Tandy and Mr. Cronyn take turns playing straight man, but at all times they seem perfectly natural. Their timing is excellent and whether it is a sharp retort of a raised eyebrow, the action is delivered with maximum effectiveness.

"The Fourposter" is not great drama nor is it Noel Coward. My companion at the theatre called it a "charming" play and I must agree.