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At the Cambridge Summer Theatre

By J. M.

"Skylark," this week's presentation at the Brattle Hall Theatre, is like a lot of other comedies. It starts off rather slowly and aimlessly, manages to become semi-amusing at the end of the first act, and from there on turns into a really funny show, as the actors and the script lose their awkwardness. It never becomes first-rate comedy, however, because it is never really convincing. The plot and the characters are too trite to make it anything more than a clever drawing-room farce in which the characters speak and act as they are expected to in such a comedy, but as they never would in real life.

The story involves the marital difficulties of a hitherto happy couple when on their tenth anniversary the wife discovers that she is really unhappy because her husband is spending too much time and attention on his work and too little on her. So she decides to divorce him, and the play deals with his efforts to keep his happy home from disintegrating. Familiar as this theme sounds, the characters themselves are even more so. First there is the heroine, a beautiful, intelligent, well-meaning wife of the Candida type, who decides that financial prosperity isn't all there is to life and decides to look for real happiness. Her husband is equally conventional as a likeable, prosperous business man who can't understand why his wife isn't happy. And then there is the inevitable chronic drunk, Who Has Searched For Beauty In Life And Found Nothing But Emptiness So Has Taken To The Bottle. His language is a sort of drunken allegorical double talk, about climbing to the top of the hill and looking at the horizon: Of course it is he who discloses to the wife the fact that she is really unhappy, and the play is concerned with the conflict between his philosophy of life and that of the prosperous husband.

Though all this is rather stereotyped, it is carried along very smoothly and wittily (after the first act) by an excellent script an some good acting. Madge Evans as Lydia Kenyon, the heroine, is all that she should be; beautiful and charming. Robert E. Perry, who plays her husband, is by far the best actor in the cast; he is the only one who managers to look natural in the first act, perhaps partly because his lines are the only ones which talk as a human being should talk, but mainly because he seems to know better how to act than any of the others. The supporting cast is as usual excellent, with Louise Kanasireff and Allan Tower turning in especially good performances.

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