The Theater: Half-New Play in Manhattan

The Matchmaker (by Thornton Wilder) by another name did not smell anything like so sweet. As The Merchant of Yonkers—a rewrite of a century-old Viennese farce—it was pretty much of a flop when produced on Broadway in 1938. But as further rewritten by Playwright Wilder and lustily staged by Tyrone Guthrie, what once merely clattered now careens, what formerly sputtered now explodes.

There is a brazen, often hilarious farcicality about it all. In a production gagged to the teeth, liberty lurches into license, license swaggers into outrageousness, and farce reasserts its ancient claim to...

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