The dramatization of a successful novel is always anxiously awaited by a theatre-going public and John Marquand's "Point of No Return" is no exception to this general rule. It is, therefore, a pleasure to report that the current production at the Colonial is not only faithful to the book, but is successful in bringing Marquand's people vividly to life.
The play has been written by Paul Osborn in close collaboration with the author, and the story of a man who struggles against the demands of a success-ladder society has been reproduced in clear and poignant terms.
"Lieutenant" Henry Fonda steps surely into the role of the uneasy suburbanite. He is confused and then resolute, believable at all times, as he realizes that his life is not giving him the freedom that he wants.
The direction and the sets by Jo Mielziner are remarkably well-handled. Particularly outstanding is Mielziner's interior bank setting, a rewarding experiment in perspective.
As in the book, the significant part of the plot takes place in the form of a flashback, imaginatively set up by the use of sliding backdrop. The action moves from the present to the late 1920's without an obtrusive break, from Westchester to a Massachusetts town named Clyde (presumably fashioned afer Newburyport).
The characters, members of the upper-upper, the upper-middle and the upper-lower classes of W. Lloyd Warner's "Yankee City," are portrayed with almost flawless accuracy. John Cromwell plays Fonda's father with just the correct mixture of humor and understanding; he is perhaps the outstanding members of a fine supporting cast.
The theatre season thus far has been overflowing with frothy comedies and exuberant musicals. The public owes a debt of gratitude to Messrs. Marquand and Osborn for this thoughtful piece.