Pearson's ponderous, patriotic production of the "Police Patrol" was presented to an appreciative public at the Lansing last night. It was melodrama with a vengeance and all the old familiar faces of melodrama were there, even the poor and virtuous flower girl, though she was livelier and brighter and a little less antique than most of the innocent and defenseless flower girls of the stage. On the whole the acting was better than in most shows of that class. Mr. Chappelle made a very easy, gentlemanly police captain if he does spell his name with an extra E. He had more dignity and good sense than actors in sensational dramas often have, and though he had the misfortune to be the hero he was not goody-goody or priggish. His virtues as an actor were all negative, but they were appreciated. Miss Lorna Atwood as Laura Joyce is a well meaning young woman and the dexterity with which she removes her hair pins and takes down her back hair to produce an agitated effect while she is being strangled is to be commended. It is a question as to whether just such a character as Lillian Barker is legitimate on the stage, surely Miss Haynes' rendition is hardly so. In such characters suggestiveness is enough, fac similes are scarcely necessary.
The patrol wagon scenes were as realistic as the size of the stage would allow. Policemen were numerous, but we were fortunately spared the nurse girl. We promised to make special note of all companies heartless enough to afflict us with "After the Ball." It was worse than that this time; it was "Apres le Bal," and the whole sickly song in American French, the euphonious French of Chicago.
The play itself was very much like a report for a sensational paper. It was made to be exciting and with very little regard to the truth or to literary merit. It was a thoroughly orthodox yellow backed melodrama. It had five acts and a flower girl and a fire, that is, a patrol wagon, which is just as good. I am not one of those people who long to see melodrama done away with. While society is in its present unequal condition there must always be a class of people to whom nothing but melodrama and negro minstrels can appeal. Their sensibilities, like their hands, are calloused and blunted by hard labor. They are cut off from the more delicate and complex phases of emotion and can understand only the simplest type. They are insensible to any odor milder than musk and any play tamer than melodrama. So long as there are policemen and gongs and hose carts in the world these people should have their amusements; heaven knows they need them more than any of the rest of us.