The performance of the Dramatic Club last night showed what amateurs can do when they are intelligent and earnest. The author of every play presented was either a Harvard man or a Radcliffe woman; the actors were Harvard and Radcliffe students; the orchestra was an undergraduate orchestra; the plays were staged by students; the actors were coached by a student. The result was so good that it is doubtful whether a single person in the audience missed the professional touch.
The "Rescue" is a gloomy story of hereditary insanity. Anna Warden, a young girl of a family tainted with suicidal mania, is expectantly watched by an aunt scarcely sane herself. The aunt's morbid and excited precautions are rapidly sending Anna the way of her ancestors. She is rescued by a faithful old servant who tells her that she is an illegitimate child and "not a Warden" except in name. The story is a lie; but it saves the girl, who goes, with new hope, to work. The play is well written and was well acted throughout. Miss Ellis as the heroine showed genuine power.
In "America Passes By" a missionary's daughter and a young man, thrown together in Tokio where they see scarcely any of their own race, have become lovers. When the play begins they are visiting friends of the young man, a newly-married couple in Chicago. Here they find their relation to each other rapidly and fatally changing. To the quiet, religious young girl Chicago is a brutal nightmare; to the coarser-grained young man it is gloriously American, "the voice of the great old century we live in." To her his friends, their host and hostess, are vulgar and almost disgusting; to him they are fascinatingly alive. She breaks the engagement, but "puts a good face on it" till after dinner. America doesn't "pass by": it stays and does its deadly work.
Miss Allen was excellent as the quiet, simple-minded heroine; Mr. Roope as her changeable lover acted skilfully in a part none too clearly drawn; Miss May and Mr. Hammond were spirited and sufficiently ultra-modern.
In "Trespass," two miners, shut up in a cave, are dying of exhaustion. Mike comforts himself by constant prayer; Pete blasphemes. In time Mike's assurance that he dies in peace because the sins of the penitent are forgiven by God and by all Christian men gives Pete new hope; Pete confesses that the has sinned with Mike's wife, proclaims his repentance, and demands pardon. Mike, facing death, forgives him; but hearing the picks of the rescuing party and seeing release, strangles him. The play has strength. Mr. Silverman and Mr. Walker acted it with earnestness and dignity, but without the skill to do it complete justice.
"Francois-Amour" was less successful than the other plays, partly because the actors, with one or two marked exceptions, ennunciated less clearly; partly because verse is exacting; partly, it seemed, because the lines often lacked distinction and demand of the actors finesse that is too much to expect.
For the performance as a whole the Dramatic Club deserves high praise. L. B. R. BRIGGS.
Performance at Pudding Theatre Tonight
The Dramatic Club's production will be presented in the Hasty Pudding Theatre this evening and at Copley Hall, Boston tomorrow evening, at 8.15 o'clock
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