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It is very interesting to compare Miss Crimmins's new play "She Knows Better Now" with Miss Lewis's new playlet "That Case of the Joneses." The former is a play of a small central idea expanded with fair success into a three-act play by means of Miss Irwin's broad and contagious humor. The latter is a play of a strikingly original idea cut down or rather left undeveloped till its effect is jeopardized. One is the play of moderately successful expansion; the other the play of unfortunate contraction.
During the first act of "She Knows Better Now," Mrs. Tompkins (Miss Irwin) has a decidedly funny quarrel with her husband and leaves for Europe. The second act brings her back literally loaded with smuggled goods, and shows her struggle to deceive the customs officials. In the third act, the officials finally trap her, but she is saved from jail by her husband who forgives her as the curtain falls.
The real fun of the play comes partly from the broadly humorous lines and farcical situations, but chiefly from Miss Irwin. During the first act, the laughter is hearty and constant, but the fun wanes steadily thereafter, as the pace of the play grows slower and action deteriorates into dialogue. Miss Irwin interrupts the second act pleasantly by several of her really funny songs and verses.
Obviously, the first act has little logical connection with the real source of the fun--unsuccessful smuggling. The last two acts could be condensed and many incidents omitted entirely. But after all, the audience wants Miss Irwin and who would take away any of her opportunities? Last night she gave genuine pleasure to many admirers. Uncritical students oppressed by January fears or December social obligations will find an excellent opportunity this week and next at the Plymouth.
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