Benchley at the Theatre

edited by Charles Getchell. Ipswich Press, $14.95. In 1924, after encountering Bombastes Furioso, “billed as ‘The Oldest Musical Burlesque in the English Language,’ and they might have added, “the worst,’" Benchley wrote, “One thing we must ask of our literary executors, and that is that none of our humorous writings be revived in 2124.” Fortunately, it is not yet 2124, and Benchley’s remarks on long-gone productions can be guiltlessly enjoyed, along with his parodies of muddled Shakespearian scholarship and his irreverent summaries of windy works of dramatic art. For all his insouciant lightness of touch, Benchley had one firm standard: let “nobody be allowed to bore us.”That is a principle to be respected. It also produced some very funny—still funny—writing.