THE RED-HAIRED BITCH by Clifford Hanley


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Comedy, like suspense, most often gains in strength from a reliance on the ordinary rather than grotesque exaggeration of characters, setting or dialogue as Clifford Hanley's novels show. For instance, Second Time Round (1964) said a lot very lightly about remarriage and the aches and pains of middle-aged romance, while The Hot Month (1967) caught the crowded family summer cottage vacation scene right down to the last pixilated picnic. What happens when amateur but talented people combine to produce a musical comedy for the professional theater provides a backslapping backdrop for The Red-Haired Bitch, the title of their opus based on Mary, Queen of Scots. Davy Minto is a patriotic Scot with money enough to finance the effort for the sake of his childless wife who had once been in reportory even though she's pudgy and happy at home. Their director is a London washout, their words are via a lecherous lyricist, the music via a marvelous school teacher, and the book via a professional crank. Naturally a star is imported from a TV series while the rest of the cast is collected from all over Glasgow, and the bohemianism associated with backstage life infects each one to some degree--none fatally, all funnily. Boffo, with a Scots burr.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1969
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin