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Ever since the dawn of the family institution, the designation "perfect marriage" has constituted a challenge for cynics, and in these later years, for psychoanalysis to search out and expose to general derision some herrid flaw, some suppressed hate or combat concealed by any couple known to boast of "never having a quarrel." At the Plymouth Theatre, this week, Arthur Goodrich, in his latest play, "The Perfect Marriage" has presented a happy and, we believe, truthful interpretation of this phenomenon. The lesson being that while there are, of necessity sacrifices by both the man and woman, the balance of satisfaction is a permanent justification.
With a pace and continuity unusual even among the most capable casts, Fay Bainter, Edith Barrett, George Gaul, and George Baxter keep the audience in an almost constant state of sympathetic suspense throughout the whole play. The characters are four temperamental artists plus a philosophical and Machiavellian old butler. We have always thought the lives of such people were an ideal subject for the playwright. To the conventional member of this work-a-day world, their careers and feelings possess a peculiar fascination. An atmosphere of fairy story illusion pervades all action and this atmosphere provides a desired relief both from the crudities of reality and the harshness of "realistic" plays. Theirs are adult passions curiously interwoven with a childlike egoism and sublime indifference to realities. Underlying their tenseness and melodrama is a saving realization that after all it's all in fun.
Miss Bainter seemed to have the edge in acting honors over Miss Barrett, although our personal favorite was Mr. Gaul. It was one of these affairs where everyone seemed to be having a good time on the stage, a pleasure, we hasten to add, that was equally enjoyed by the audience.
The curtain falls on an admittedly awkward solution, but this is a minor matter. The anti-climactic nature of any "happy ending" romantic story is inherent. The third act would never be criticized but for the fact that it suffers in comparison to the ecstatic rush of the first two. Bluntly put, "The Perfect Marriage" was delightful. One leaves the theatre in the glamorous mood that marks the romanticist's tempestuous existence.
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