• U.S.

The Theater: New Play in Manhattan, Nov. 2, 1942

2 minute read

The Damask Cheek (by John van Druten & Lloyd Morris; Produced by Dwight Deere Wiman) gives Broadway its first polite comedy this season. It also gives menacing Actress Flora Robson (Ladies in Retirement, Anne of England) her first ingratiating role. She shows that she can handle comedy as well as emotion, sweetness as well as strength all in one evening.

Laid in Manhattan in 1908, The Damask Cheek centers in Rhoda Meldrum, a plain-looking, vivacious English girl who is visiting her American relatives. The play’s charm lies in its half-nostalgic, half-satiric display of the kid-gloved conventions of the time. Its comedy lies in its sharp family portraits—Rhoda’s rude, snobbish dowager aunt (well played by Margaret Douglass), her healthily lovesick young cousin Daphne, a pert, gold-digging actress who is engaged to Cousin Jimmy (Myron McCormick). The play’s romance lies in Rhoda’s unspoken love for Jimmy, the intensity of which she understands only after another young man’s attentions have released her pent-up feelings.

The play’s difficulty lies in making Jimmy share Rhoda’s feelings; and aware of what they are up against, the authors postpone their fictional finale as long as they can by nervously improvising a wide assortment of needless incidents.

An amusing period study of manners dashed lightly with romance. The Damask Cheek is an act too long. For two acts it sails gracefully ahead, barely skimming the water; then the wind drops, and miles & miles from shore, it has to row itself home.

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