Tuesday, August 25, 2020

305. LET ME HEAR YOU SMILE. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975


James Broderick, Sandy Dennis.

LET ME HEAR YOU SMILE [Comedy/Childhood/Marriage] A: Leonard Thuna and Harry Cauley; D: Harry Cauley; D: Harry Cauley; S: Peter Larkin; C: Carrie F. Robbins; L: Neil Peter Jampolis; P: Michael and Barclay Macrae; T: Biltmore Theatre; 1/16/73 (1)

Sandy Dennis, James Broderick.

Let Me Hear You Smile “was pointless, sad and totally unmemorable,” grieved Clive Barnes over this one-night catastrophe starring Broadway notables Sandy Dennis and James Broderick (Matthew’s dad). Douglas Watt referred to it as “static” and “foolish.” “[M]ild and placid, never offensive but emphatically not stimulating,” was Richard Watts’s gentle opinion, while Martin Gottfried, who found some redeeming virtues in it, ultimately had to dispose of the play as unfunny and confusingly staged.

Dennis and Broderick played a couple seen first in their late 30s, then as prepubescent kids, and finally as old folks. In the first act, the pay treats the wife’s difficulty with facing her 40th birthday and her threatening to leave home and husband. In Act Two, the first-grade children reveal their growing awareness of sex and their fear of moving into the second grade. In the third, the aged husband, having sold his hardware store, wants to move to New Zealand, but his wife objects.

Broderick’s acting was liked, and Dennis was, as often, chastised for her mannerisms but appreciated nonetheless for her quirky comic charms. A third actor involved was Paul B. Price.