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"The Governor's Wife" took her husband and Cambridge by the ears Tuesday night, capturing both. There is no formula that can quite explain the extraordinary fascination of this Comedy of Manners (and a Woman) by that swift satirical genius, Jacinto Benavente. For three acts the little province of Moraleda, Spain, hums with petty intrigue, political and domestic; is agog with sycophancy and scandal; nothing is left out. Beauty and the Bull, colors and shrugs flashing lavishly excited and Latin, speech a sparkle and--everybody throws physic to the dogs. For this, let it be urged, is a DeCanterbury Pilgrimage, and there is Wine, of course. Be calm, and imagine Josefina, the Governor's Wife, asking her husband's over attentive secretary for a glass of water. The secretary is consistent and thoughtful and makes charming mistakes. . . . She drinks it!
As the play jogs along, one catches oneself thinking of Chaucer and wondering why. Perhaps it is the breathless jostle of bright costume and eager garrulity, the sheer impetuousness of movement as such, the merrily malicious person of our playwright-imp teasing here, pricking there, now poking a goodly joke if the ribs of conscience, now playing hide-and-seek with a smug morality, always exposing to laughter the foibles, the vanities, the littlenessesses of our too human nature.
We may perhaps find it hard to summon mentally and definite, unmistakable plot which we can thumb. The play is too rapid a frolic for that. And its plot is a bewildering melange of characters and incidents, as episodic carnival rather than a blunt sequence of cause and effect. We encounter no sex problems, no ouija jigglings; Moraleda is Medford, Mass.; or Spoon River before it became a cemetery.
There are lines in "The Governor's Wife" that haunt us. It is a keen rapier that writes them, but it is a rapier which tickles without wounding. Josefina insists on her husband's "lack of character," imploring him to make up his mind about anything. "If it turns out to be wrong, all the more reason for sticking to it." She conceives of her husband heroically: "If he rides into office on horseback like Don Quixote, he will ride out on an ass like Sancho Panza." She leaves no doubt in his mind: "I loved you out of pity like--Desdemona loved Othello." And when the Governor's secretary forgets the Governor and the tenth commandment, and takes her hand, Josefina cries: "I'm alone, all alone in the world. I have no one but my husband."
But enough. If you would be completely delighted spend an evening with "The Governor's Wife." Miss Dorothy Sands as Josefina will prove irresistible, in appearance, in subtle naivete, in ease of carriage and suavity of enunciation she recalls Mrs. Fiske--a Spanish Mrs. Fiske--plus always her own enchanting, voluble self. Mr. Walton Butterfield '20, as Don Santiago, the Governor, and Mr. Harding Scholle ocC., as Don Baldomero, the Multi of Moraleda, are unforgettable characters. Manolo, the "Governor's secretary, finds in Mr. Barton Leach '22 a winning address and, except for a certain insistent springiness of motion, an excellent lover. Mr. C. S. Howard's otherwise admirable Marquis of Torrelodones is marred somewhat by an irritating resemblance to Sam Bernard. This could easily be remedied. Mr. Leonard Ware '21 looks the Toreador to a T. enriching the precession and giving it vivid authenticity. Mr. F. C. Packard '20 is one waiter in a thousand; and Mr. Cyril McNear '20 makes a handsome idler.
The striking good looks and vivacity of the Radcliffe actresses (not the Pi Eta and Pudding variety) must certainly be mentioned as adding mightily to the success and enjoyment of the performance.
With the aid of an enthusiastic orchestra and adequate, if sometimes timid, scenery. "The Governor's Wife" seampers triumphantly on to a happy (not tired) ending. Even the Bull-Ring scene, in spite of its terrifying recollection of a football game at the Stadium, is distinctly thrilling.
The Harvard Dramatic Club and Mr. J. W. D. Seymour '17, director, deserve our heartiest congratulations and applause. JOSEPH AUSLANDER '17.
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