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Brattle Opening

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

The Brattle Players advertised "an evening of comedy" last night and they weren't kidding. The combination of Christopher Fry's highly intellectual slapstick with Richard Sheridan's slightly more visual approach produces a session of very satisfactory chuckles and belly-laughs. "A Phoenix Too Frequent" and "The Critic" will play at the Brattle Theatre for two weeks.

Ruth Ford carries the main load superbly in "A Phoenix Too Frequent" with Nancy Marchand and Robert Flectcher in two supporting roles. The plot, if such it be, involves a Greek widow starving herself beside the body of her beloved Virilius, who perished heroically "in his office tunic."

The tragic vigil is interrupted by a soldier with six bodies--hanging on six trees, the last a holly--which he has been assigned to guard. While his adoration of the window's perfect grief blossoms into physical passion, which the aid of a jug of wine, one of his bodies is foully stolen, rendering him certainly its successor. For section six, paragraph three of the regulations quite definitely prescribes hanging for such neglect of duty. The solution is a triumph of wit over propriety.

"The Critic" stars Hurd Hatfield as Dangle, the aficionado of the theatre, and Jerry Kilty as Puff, the playwright. This pair mugs and gestures delightfully through a rehearsal of Puff's ludicrous tragedy, "The Spanish Armada."

Puff explains the grosser absurdities of his play to Sneer, played only adequately by Thayer David, stating quite simply: "It's a rule!" Indeed the rules seem to apply quite aptly to the ordinary drama, though not to Sheridan. For "The Critic" sweeps through a duel, a reenactment of the British fleet subduing the Spanish Armada, and a scene in which Nancy Marchand goes mad with her "confidante" Jan Farrand mimicking her exquisitely. In a grand boffola ending Brittania is lowered from the ceiling by a block and tackle. Andrew E. Norman

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