The Theater: New Play in Manhattan, Aug. 16, 1943

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The Two Mrs. Carrolls (by Martin Vale; produced by Robert Reud & Paul Czinner). For eight years—ever since Escape Me Never—versatile, Vienna-born Elisabeth Bergner has been searching for a new play to appear in on Broadway. The Two Mrs. Carrolls suggests that the search had become pretty desperate. From 8:40 to 10 it is just dull; from 10 o'clock on it is pretty fair melodrama.

To a villa in the South of France come a painter named Carroll (Victor Jory) and his second wife (Actress Bergner). They are a seemingly enraptured couple. For quite a while, people drink tea and drone on about Beauty in an atmosphere more amorous than ominous; then the wife turns weak and wan — though not from knowing that her husband is hitting it up with a young widow two villas away.

Enters then the first Mrs. Carroll to explain to the second why she is weak in the knees: Painter Jory is slowly poisoning her so he can marry the widow. He had tried the same stunt when he wanted to marry Miss Bergner. This useful disclosure not only warns the invalid but wakes up the audience, and leads to some belated suspense and slow-motion horror.

Though only a part-time job for its playwright, The Two Mrs. Carrolls is a full-time one for its star. Actress Bergner is by turns gay, childlike, passionate, pathetic, bewildered, frightened and frantic; and though at moments a little hard to believe, she is always exciting to watch.