Across the face of civilization, the shadows of ever changing ages cast kaleidoscopic patterns. Now it is the golden shadow of Romanticism blending into the rose of Humanism, now the purple of Classicism rising to the emerald of Idealism only to deepen into the ebon hue of Realism; then all the shadows intermingle to tremble back and forth across the mind of man, to influence man's living, to influence, perhaps his death.
To paint this pattern, to cull and condense and throw into his medium the essence of the age in which he lives is the high purpose of the dramatist. Some dramatists limit their scope to the portrayal of but one shadow, some become hopelessly embroiled in combinations too great for their artistry, but once in a great while a dramatist avoids the overemphasis of one hue to the exclusion of all others and sometimes he avoids the dilemma of a canvass splattered with all hues. When he has done this he has created a clay in which the pertinent colors are mixed with such subtlety and craftsmanship that a mere kaleidoscopic pattern takes form and breathes and becomes a living picture--a picture of Life.
Just such a pictures has Clifford Odets painted. "Golden Boy" is not a pleasant evening's entertainment; it is better than that. It is a superbly balanced piece of work. It is acted with appreciation and restraint by the entire cast. It is pithy, at times harrowing, and always interesting.
As is characteristic of excellent plays, the story is to be experienced rather than understood. Suffice it to say that a young Italian boy has a choice between music and prize-fighting as a career; he chooses the latter and regrets it. Luther Adler as the fighter is excellent, and Francis Farmer as his embittered Sweetheart gives a fine performance though she lacks dramatic finesse at times. Perhaps the best performance is presented by Morris Carnowsky as the fighter's father. Sanford Meisner is perfect as the gangster manager, and high honors are also due to Roman Bohnen as Miss farmer's elderly lover. Art Smith as the trainer, and John O'Malley as the fighter's brother.
Taste seasons the venison of time. The Group Theatre in "Golden Boy" has presented a play that will suit the taste of many dramatic gourmets for a period of considerable length.