Ring Around Elizabeth is a clever play about a woman who is stretched thin and pulled in every direction by her various family members. She is left $1,500 by her aunt, and most members of the household have definite ideas for how Elizabeth should spend the money – on something they want. The day Elizabeth goes to get the money at the bank, she conveniently gets amnesia on the way home and has to be brought home by a police officer. Witty exchanges ensue. Elizabeth is able to ask snarky questions and make biting remarks due to her amnesiac ignorance. It is never completely clear whether Elizabeth’s amnesia is completely fake, which is what I think. Her friend Irene, an old school friend visiting from the big city, seems to think she is pretending, too.
The play is pretty entertaining and well-crafted for being Armstrong’s second published work. The family bickering gets a bit wearing at times, but is typical of family dramas. The ending is tied up into a pretty neat little package, but I’m sure the reader/audience is meant to wonder just how long that will really last. The central idea of this drama seems somewhat progressive for the 1940s, when the housewife wasn’t really supposed to have any feelings or desires for herself, and her sole concern was supposed to be taking care of her family and home.