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By J. J. R. jr.

There is nothing unusual about the plot of "They Knew What They Wanted". Sidney Howard has used a none too unique form of the well-known triangle and has contrived to capture some sort of a happy ending by providing a magnanimous husband; a courageous wife, and a good-hearted "other man". But what distinguishes the play, as far as it can claim distinction, is something else again.

It has been called a comedy of American low life by which is meant that the characters are not Anglo-Saxon, do not speak copper plate English, nor live in trim little apartments furnished with a show of opulence. The scenery is therefore different, a bit less polished, and a relief from drawing rooms. Then again, the play is unusually terse. At moments, the characters are voluble enough,--when they deviate into politics or prohibition,--but at the moments that mark the dramatic progress of the piece, they have just those few words for which the situation calls. The rest of the significance is left to the histrionic efforts of the actors and the attentive understanding of the spectator. One cannot help regarding this feature as a solid dramatic virtue in the play and its author. In the third place, the play exhibits an obvious ambition to become sententious, on social custom, on love. Since there are enough appropriate chartreuse to utter these side remarks, they become entertaining without becoming crude; and add to the life of the piece as rendered by the Copley players.

A Broadway success in stock,--such it is; and perhaps an ambitious attempt for Mr. Clive and his company. Yet, on second sight, it becomes quite possible. For all the effects are broad, drawn with a stub For acceptable performance, they require more consistency and steadiness than subtlety. The play depends chiefly upon three characters, the three principles of the triangle. Perhaps of these, Allan Mowbray, as the Italian grape grower eager for a wife to enjoy the sunset half of his life with him, is most realistically played. But Nan Marriett Watson as Amy, who comes from Frisco to wed him, runs her gamut of emotions with accuracy and some sweetness. Richard-Whorf, as Joe, the rolling stone, has a peculiarly slow-moving part; it is rather possible that he overdoes his shiftless speech and dawdling walk. But the spectator soon accepts him; and he makes an undeniably handsome swain.

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