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SHIFTING from dramatic satire, George Kelly, the author of "The Torch Bearers and "The Show off" has entered the field of comedy with gusto in his latest play. "Craig's Wife."
The pivot, Mrs. Craig, is the familiar type of woman who worships meticulously at the shrine of her Lares and Penotes. These household gods are her all, and it follows that she spends at least a third of her rather selfish life in preserving the domestic perfection of every absurd detail. The author, by taking a small, self-centered soul and depicting its fussy quirks with well-seasoned finesse, has converted her into an entertaining dramatic study.
Compared to the abruptly startling plays which Broadway sees every month and even compared to his earlier successes, Mr. Kelly's current offering must seem a placid piece. It neither makes a bid for popularity with decollete scenes nor hammers its way into the consciousness by bizarre and arresting effects. With considerable maturity, Mr. Kelly etches his lines somewhat in the Pinero manner. If New York does not like it... But New York does. And eventually Boston may.
Mr. Kelly does not strive for superficial humour; it is here out-of-place. Mirth ripples through the lines, but it is of the sort that provokes internal laughter and the delighted eye, not the yokel's guffaw. Whenever Mr. Kelly courts the latter, he fumbles. One cannot help but feel that on the opening night the dead flop of these lines must have caused him chagrin and that he may have learned a well-pointed lesson.
In reading a play, it is easy to miss the force of characterization. "Craig's Wife" is not a notable exception. Nevertheless its dramatis personnae are depicted trenchantly even for reading; they never become mere ectoplasmic silhouettes. The play is a good one; it has inherent dramatic essence. If it does not place Mr. Kelly in the upper hierarchy of the American Theatre, at least it will strengthen his growing reputation.
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