• U.S.

The Theatre: Knight Errant

2 minute read

In the U. S., only brash, Johnny-jump-up William Saroyan hastens more incontinently to answer his critics than Playwright Clifford Odets. Last week, after the opening of his new play about love, Rocket to the Moon, Odets punctually tore into print.

“Some of the points that are being made about Rocket to the Moon,” said Odets, “were made in precisely the same way about Golden Boy at first. Critics complained that the subject was so well known: —Why do it again?

“It is almost silly,” Odets went on, “to have to be defending the theme of love for a play. Popular songs and motion pictures are occupied with practically nothing else. But in a serious play … it apparently strikes some as not being enough; it doesn’t ‘count.’ It isn’t ‘important.’ . . . The roots of love and the meaning of it in the present world need surely to be comprehended as much as the effect of a strike on its activists. (In fact, I am hoping to prove in a future play, The Silent Partner, that love and the urge to strike spring from a very similar origin.)”

A single flaw marred Odets’ defense of his play. Whatever people might have been saying behind fans, only one Broadway critic had said any of the things about Rocket to the Moon that Odets was defending himself against.

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