No Time For Comedy

Ethel Barrymore Theatre / April 24, 1939

(starring Lawrence Olivier / 185 performances)

No Time For Comedy opened April 17, 1939 and ran through Sept. 1939 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.


from TIME Magazine The Theatre / Monday, May 1, 1939:

"No Time For Comedy (by S. N. Behrman; produced by Katharine Cornell and the Playwrights Co.) brought Katharine Cornell triumphantly back to Broadway after a two years' absence—in the first full comedy role of her career.

In No Time For Comedy Behrman (perhaps transferring his own qualms) treats of a writer of comedies who wonders whether he shouldn't be more serious-minded. This beautiful notion is implanted in him by an uplifted, though agreeably carnal, society woman, and involves him in a mess of ideas about immortality and Loyalist Spain. It takes all the skill of the playwright's clever, patient wife (Katharine Cornell) to give his plays, and her life, a happy ending.

Less formidable dramatists than Behrman have had a go at this plot, but much of the time Behrman handles it with adroitness and wit. The trouble is that Behrman, a Frederick Lonsdale who reads The New Republic, too often makes sex a mere come-on for ideas, none of which he accepts. He is a kind of ideological window-shopper; or, like Pooh-Bah, a Leader of the Opposition, he feels he must resist what he approves of as First Lord of the Treasury.

As a wise wife who knows her own husband, Katharine Cornell brings to her role force and personality, but never the glint of Gertrude Lawrence or the purr of Ina Claire.

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