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This Hart-Kaufman stage-smash has hit the road and returned to the scene of its first triumph. Replete with an excellent cast headed by Alexander Woollcott and lines which are still definitely this year's model, "The Man Who Came to Dinner" is a funnybone feat calling for second and third helpings.
Mr. Woollcott is a natural in the by-now-legendary role of Sheridan Whiteside, the literary celebrity who takes over his dinner hosts' home when compelled to remain by a fractured hip. The authors may or may not have written the role with Mr. Woollcott as a model, but in any case the wheelchair prop not only "fits his fanny" as he remarks, but is an admirable vehicle for Woollcott acting, which is strongest in its voice inflection and facial expression.
A vastly disproportionate amount of America's playwriting energy is expended upon the satirical or farcical comedy dealing with the vicissitudes of cafe or literary society life. A good deal of it is sheer waste, and its authors would do better shoveling coal. Kaufman and Hard are among the few who can make good theatre out of nothing more than witty lines and superficial characterizations and plots. The second act of "The Man Who Came to Dinner" shows both the art and the artists at their best; they play may easily be the masters' masterpiece. It's an unbeatble laxative for a constipated sense of humor, and just what the doctor ordered for thos blue-book blues.
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