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The Playgoer

At the Brattle

By Stephen O. Saxe

This is the play that seven years ago took both the Pulitzer Prize and the Critics' Circle Award, made the reputations of Gene Kelly and William Bendix and the fortune of William Saroyan. With Julie Haydon the only holdover from the original cast, it's still a very good play. Characters like the Arab and Nick and McCarthy are indestructible, even on the borscht circuit. Regardless of who asks it, "Did you ever fall in love with a 39 pound midget?" will always be a funny line.

Playing her old part of Kitty, the prostitute who is living in a dream world, Julie Haydon never misses. Always, she is just right--the Polack accent, the way Kitty walks--a fine actress, completely immersed in her role. James Dunn plays Joe, the man who interprets the world from the vantage point of a side table in Nick's Pacific Street Saloon, Restaurant and Entertainment Palace. Dunn is a sentimental Irishman, and this is a play by a sentimental Armenian, which is enough said. Dunn muffed some of his lines badly last night, demonstrating that he hasn't been with the part long, but with that exception gave a tender and warm-hearted performance.

There are some sheep among the goats in the minor parts, but they are few in number. Somehow, it is the awkward, yearning, gentle people who inhabit all of Saroyan's plays that the young hopefuls of summer stock are most capable of getting across to an audience.

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