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Browing's "The Ring and The Book" Gives Hampden Opportunity to Present Some Excellent Acting

By R. O. B.

The plot of "The Constant Wife" is easy of comprehension. Miss Barrymore has the part of Constance Middleton, wife of a Harley Street Surgeon, John Middleton. John is having an affair with Marie Louise, a great friend of Constance's. Constance knows of the liaison but has decided to ignore it as long as she can. The situation comes to a head, however, when Mortimer, husband of Marie Louise, bursts in, and accuses John and Marie Louise before Constance. The latter, clever lady, concocts a magnificent alibi for her husband and his mistress, and Mortimer goes away, abject, to buy his wife a string of pearls, as heart-balm for his suspicions of her. Constance then advises Marie Louise and Mortimer to go away for a year, which they do. It then appears that Constance was no more annoyed than she was, because she holds a theory that marriage contract is, after love has passed, merely a friendly association, in which the wife, in return for being maintained in a certain position, uses her husband's household to entertain his friends. As long as he maintains her in the manner to which she is accustomed she must remain faithful, and he may do as he pleases.

In accordance with this theory Constance determines to go to work, and earn enough to pay her board and lodging, and so have no obligations toward her husband. This she does, and at the end of the play she hands John a cheque for a thousand pounds, and tells him that she is going off for a six weeks' holiday with another man, who has loved her for fifteen years.

Mr. Maugham has written an entertaining comedy, which presents some rather unusual aspects of modern marriage. The play is interested at appropriate intervals with the sort of fashionable aphorism which all modern English comedies seem to require, and in addition there are a number of good old wise cracks, for the "gout americain." Miss Barrymore is pleasing to the eye and gives an exceedingly finished performance. Miss Verree Teasdale takes the part of Marie Louise, the attractive but inconstant wife and fills the bill admirably. Mr. Aubrey Smith's performance as John, the prominent and unfaithful Harley Street surgeon, was uniformly excellent. The fact is that whole play provides as pleasant an evening's entertainment with as excellent a cast as there has been in Boston for a long time.

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