Jean Kerr Richard Watts - Essay

Richard Watts

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Jean Kerr is a skillful playwright, a brilliant wit and one of the most charming and delightful women in the world. All of those qualities have gone into her new comedy, "Finishing Touches,"… and I think it is almost certain to be the latest Broadway success. But, as much as I enjoyed it …, I had a few reservations about its effectiveness.

It is funny, it is wise and it is believable in characterizations and story. It also has the virtue of getting better as it goes along, and it is making one of those comparisons that Constable Dogberry found "odorous" to say that I felt it was less satisfactory than Mrs. Kerr's wonderful previous comedy, "Poor Richard."…

The story isn't the strong point of "Finishing Touches." Its merit lies in Mrs. Kerr's gift for humor and shrewd observation of character, and the warm-heartedness that brightens everything she writes. She is not a writer who goes in for laugh lines, and her comedy stems largely from her amused but always sympathetic and tolerant vision of the strength and weakness of mankind. You feel that she likes everyone she is contemplating but she isn't taken in by them.

Richard Watts, "Theater: Family That Stayed Together," in New York Post (reprinted by permission of the New York Post; © 1973, New York Post Corporation), February 9, 1973 (and reprinted in New York Theatre Critics' Reviews, Vol. XXXIV, No. 4, February 19, 1973, p. 364).