Repertory Picks

Matrimonial Mayhem in Princeton

The road to divorce is paved with comedy gold in Leo McCarey’s The Awful Truth, playing tonight at the Princeton Garden Theatre in New Jersey. Plagued by suspicions of infidelity, an upper-crust New York couple (Cary Grant and Irene Dunne) decide to end their marriage but, in trying to redirect their affections to less suitable lovers, discover they can’t quite let go of each other. McCarey, who went on to win a best director Oscar for the film, used his love for improvisation to create an anarchic rhythm and sense of comedic surprise. And though this approach initially unsettled Grant, the actor’s performance became a major turning point in his career, solidifying his status as one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. In an in-depth essay for our edition, critic Molly Haskell calls The Awful Truth “the greatest screwball of them all,” and marvels at, among other things, its surprisingly risqué dialogue: “there’s enough innuendo to wonder why Hays Office brows were not rising, and injunctions being issued forthwith.”

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