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Diplomacy is a game that more than ministers play at, if the exposition of its intricacies in "The Command To Love", now at the Plymouth theatre, is to be believed. Indeed, the fate of a treaty between France and Spain is seen to depend on the success Gaston, the French military attache has in his attentions to Manuela, the wife of the Spanish war minister, who is its chief opponent. The first act sees him committed to this amourous campaign in the name of patriotism; the second carries it on hilariously to the verge of a successful conclusion, and needless to say by the final curtain victory has come to the banners of love and France.
All this is set to comic music by means of a variety of devices, none of them very new but all skillfully executed and entertaining. It soon appears that the wife of the French ambassador has some incriminating letters from her husband's subordinate, the attache, that make the task of this young man more than ordinarily difficult and provide an abundance of embarrassing situations. Epigrams on the nature of virtue, love, and related matters help keep the dialog from sagging after a rather lame beginning, and there is some room for satire of a rather superior brand on the diplomatic profession.
The company has no weak points and all the characters help in maintaining the frothy spirit of the play. Mary Nash, in the part of Manuela, coos and poses most alluringly in her tryst with Gaston in what she calls the "seductive surroundings" of his office, and furnishes one of the high spots of the show when she appears in some pyjamas attributed to Pizarro. Melvyn Douglas, playing opposite her, does a thoroughly capable job, and Violet Kemble Cooper, in the role of his scorned nemesis, makes the most of a less productive part. Ferdinand Gottschalk and Henry Stephenson give two excellent characterizations in auxiliary roles.
A comedy that witnesses a complete victory of manner over matter, "The Command To Love" provides a pleasant evening's entertainment with a minimum of mental effort.
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