Janus, the latest laff riot that Broadway has farmed out to the provinces, is making an unsteady last stand at the Plymouth before it is consigned to the back pages of high school drama catalogs.
Playwright Carolyn Green's epic untidily spins out the thought that a women needs two men to satisfy her needs--an intellectual etherial type to minister to her soul and a breadwinning family man to keep her in expensive clothes. This theme Miss Green manages to spin out for a heavy handed, and for the most part, unfunny three acts. Poorly crafted, the script seems almost a parody of the stock devices that are supposed to make a "hit," or as the play bill calls it, a "wildly romantic comedy." The specifics of the plot involve the wife of a shipping executive who spends here summers in a New York hideaway writing "Lusty, busty, novels" with an Andover French teacher. Perhaps Shaw could have spun a witty and engaging bit of whimsy on this not unpromising view of the war between the sexes. Miss Green does not.
Yet the evening is partially redeemed by the valiant efforts of a very fine cast who are forced to mouth such distinguished lines as:
"Gee, that looks like a policewoman's outfit."
"Oh, that's my den mother's uniform. I wear it to frighten the little brats into line. (Loud and prolonged laughs.)
Joan Bennett plays the leading lady with a brassy verve that is matched by Donald Cook as her husband. Romney Brent plays Miss Bennett's collaborator with a limpid little-boy charm. Edith Meiser carries a spinster character role with enough energy to compensate for the poor lines she was given, and Jerome Cowan plays an amorous Internal Revenue agent. The play is held together by a succession of hilarious stage business, a routine with Mr. Cook drinking coffee, and other bits which are marvelously performed.
Janus is a more or less tolerable evening of inane froth.