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ROUND THE THEATRES

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“THE FEMALE HUN.”–Among the very striking characteristics of life as lived at the Lyceum, one particularly worthy of observation is its extreme simplicity. At first sight it would appear that a child could draw it; but yet it cannot be so, for many children would be making fortunes out of royalties while in their cradles. So there must be some hidden difficulty to be overcome; some trick of it, only known to the select few, at whose head stands Mr. Walter Melville. It may be that there are heights of simplicity to which the common dramatist or the child cannot attain; that to very few is it given to be so incredibly simple as to be triumphant. Your ordinary man wouldreach a certain point, and then break down he would weakly attempt to give reasons for the things that happen, and his reasons being on examination found to be defective, he would retire discomfited. But the genius never attempts to give any reasons at all so there is nothing to examine, and no defect to be found. Like the wise judge he announces his decision and states no grounds for it; thereby placing himself in an impregnable position if on appeal anybody canthink of any grounds at all. His materials are human troubles, but he plays with them in a detached way; painting them in lurid colours, but uprooting them entirely from any causes or effects. It is just because they have no causes and no effects that it is neces sary to make them lurid while they last other wise they would b e meaningless even to the most u n s o phisticated mind. When any of the rest of us in our usually un eventful lives have a trouble we are able gener ally to know why it happened and we have a pretty shrewd suspicion that it will con tinue till some- thing comes along to remove it. Take an over draft at the bank, for instance (if 1 may be allowed to mention any thing so harrow- ing). If my banker has men tioned it. tn-davwith some as perity, I cannot go to bed in the certain hope that he will have forgotten all about it to-morrow. It persists, and has effects. Now with Mr. Melville a British General’s wife may be arrested as a German spy and turn up smiling in the next act as if nothing had happened. It is true that in a perfunctory way lie says something about some mistaken identity but nobody pays any attention, and 1 regard the attempt as a falling’away from grace. Even Mr. Melville, in his weaker moments, con descends to explanation; but his strength is when he scorns it. For instance, he has to get an English officer out of a German camp surrounded by electrified barbed wire and sentries. This problemmight worry some people and give rise to what lesser men describe as ingenuity all he does is to provide a gap cut in the wire, and a German uniform hidden under a bundle of straw, and to keep the sentry away till the uniform is put on and the gap crawled through and the whole of the journey from that camp to England he, like a wise man, ignores. It is obviously a case where explanation would be tedious and superfluous. Or two Englishmen have to captui’e a German submarine. That, one would have supposed, would present difficulties. Not at all. He does not even trouble to make the captors disguise their British military uniforms. He passes them without question through the crew on deck,lets them down a narrow ladder into the periscope room, where a couple of German officers treat the situation as irretrievable till they remember, too late, that they have revolvers and there you are. Or a British General finds that his wife has been behind a curtain listening to a council of war; and she on discovery just proclaims her German nationality (being quite obviously English), and draws a pistol on, him, and is shot with it. It is splendid. Myself, I should feebly have made her explain that she mistook the curtain for the entrance to her bedroom, or that she had been looking at the moon and had heardnothing, or had oome back to find her fan there being, indeed, no earthly reason why the General should suppose that there was any harm in her hearing of the decision to counter-attack, or that she was at all likely to inform Berlin. At the very least I should have held the matter over till the next act, with a view to bringing in that mistaken identity plea again. Acting up to Melvillian principles 1 should have thought it quite possible for her to satisfy the British authorities that it was not she who was found behindthat curtain, but another woman oi the same appear- a n c e and I should have got her somehow on to the submarine in the last act. Miss Gladys Mason might so easily have bor rowed the neat and serviceable bathing costume which Miss Annie Saker no longer requires. But all this would have been but pale moonlight to the fiery sun of Mr. Melville’s concep tion of the scene. The female Hun had to be shot, reasons or no reasons so shot she was, and that by a loving hus band and in spite of the fact that her link with Ger- i many, her butler, had already been finally removed, and there was nothing to pre vent her settling down to a happy married life. But I forget. There was perhaps a reason, and a very cogent one. The poster artist had done his work. You have seen theposter? Well, either that was to be wasted or the lady had to die. The conclusion was inevitable. I blame nobody. But I was sorry to see the last of Miss Gladys Mason so soon.She was such a nice lady-like beautiful and entirely English Hun. She gave me quite a kindly feeling towards Germany; even as at the sight of Mr. J. C. Aubrey my heart went out to all irresolute and unhappy villains. There is somethinor almostrollicking about his gloom. His association with Germany had, in the circumstances of the present military situation, obviously got upon his nerves. Towards the heroine, Miss Annie Saker, it was not possible to feel any particular emotion. She was very faithful and plaintive but she did nothing in particular. It must have been a tame affair to be taken out to the sub marine in a boat and an evening frock, while that nice serviceable bathing costumeremained at home on its shelt.


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Issue 2352. - Vol 90

Oct, 12 1918

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News