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The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder
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The Matchmaker (1955)

by Thornton Wilder

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This is a wonderful little comedy and romantic farce that deserves to be better known, though I suppose it is indirectly, since it was the basis for the musical ‘Hello, Dolly!’ There are such great characters here, including Dolly Levi of course, and Wilder’s craftsmanship in the play’s structure and his humor are on full display. ‘The Matchmaker’ is clever and charming, and yet also manages to get in some commentary on love, the pursuit of happiness, and the role of money in those things. It’s a play that encourages “the aspirations of the young (and not only of the young) for a fuller, freer participation in life,” as Wilder himself put it, and it does so in the gentlest of ways. Very nice, and would be great to see performed.

Quotes:
On inherited wealth:
“The law is there to protect property, but – sure, the law doesn’t care whether a property owner deserves his property or not, and the law has to be corrected. There are several thousands of people in this country engaged in correcting the law. For a while, I too was engaged in the redistribution of superfluities. A man works all his life and leaves a million to his widow. She sits in hotels and eats great meals and plays cards all afternoon and evening, with ten diamonds on her fingers. Call in the robbers! Call in the robbers!”

On love, and trying to block it:
Vandergelder: “She’s trying to run away with a good-for-nothing and we’re preventing it.”
Cabman: “Oh, I know them, sir. They’ll win in the end. Rivers don’t run uphill.”

On money:
“Yes, we’re all fools and we’re all in danger of destroying the world with our folly. But the surest way to keep us out of harm is to give us the four or five human pleasures that are our right in the world,- and that takes a little money!
The difference between a little money and no money at all is enormous – and can shatter the world. And the difference between a little money and an enormous amount of money is very slight – and that, also, can shatter the world.
Money, I’ve always felt, money – pardon my expression – is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread about encouraging young things to grow.”

On solitude:
“There comes a moment in everybody’s life when he must decide whether he’ll live among human beings or not – a fool among fools or a fool alone.” ( )
1 vote gbill | Feb 15, 2019 |
4
  kutheatre | Jun 7, 2015 |
Cheesy Ending!
I'm Minnie Fay for a dinner theatre fundraiser that is performing this play. The blocking for this play is complex, but it's got some good humour. ( )
  LDVoorberg | Nov 25, 2007 |
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