Last night at the Lansing "The Ensign" was presented to a crowded and enthusiastic house. It was certainly one of the most sympathetic and responsive audiences of the season. Young America was there with all his helpful enthusiasm and hopeful credulity, and it would take a more cynical critic than the present one to laugh at his patriotism or his happy faculty of being pleased in spite of drawbacks. "The Ensign" is like most military and naval dramas, a sort of Fourth of July carried on all the year round, with the usual stars, stripes and patriotic speeches. The note of the screaming eagle runs all through it. It has plenty of thrilling situations and several climaxes that are both thrilling and legitimate. Act one was good because it had a man in it, a real live man who could laugh and talk and kiss a pretty girl. Men are rare on the stage and we appreciate the midshipman. The second act was weary by reason of the quarrel therein, but endurable because of the hair erecting scene at the end. Act three was gratuitous. A trial is generally a bore to anyone but attorneys who receive the fees and the unfortunates who pay them. Act four was very moist, and must have caused several special handkerchief sales. Act five was very affectionate and was served up with universal paleness. Indeed fifth act complexions must always be rather hard on the white part of the makeup box. In this play, as in all others, in the first act the actors were of lobster redness and were gradually toned down through the play until they reached the ghostly stage in the last act. On the whole the play is as good as the average public deserves, it is visible and audible and exciting and contains enough patriotism and profanity to be forever dear to the hearts of the American people.
As usual the hero had the worst part and was the worst actor. In fact the whole play was very usual. The role was played by Mr. Edwards . It is unfortunate that Mr. Edwards can't be a hero and a good fellow at the same time. So far as we are aware, American naval officers are not at all saints, and are very different men from the young deacon who trod the deck of the Jacinto last night. The young ensign was entirely too good for this wicked world, and we were rather glad when he so nearly got out of it. We felt all the time that he ought to be in his Sunday school class and not around on a ship where he might learn to swear. Mr. Edwards could not make love at all, unless he improves he ought not to be allowed to try it with such a pretty Alice as Miss Gaunt . He cannot even kiss properly or enthusiastically, and that certainly is one of the most primitive of amorous accomplishments. Perhaps that also was because he was so good. At any rate he was surely a laggard in love, whatever he was in war.
Mr. George Wright as Midshipman Watson was a jolly tar and a bit of an actor, quite a bit, in fact he was the chief masculine attraction of the play. He was lively, natural and generally up in his business. Coxswain Jack was good, but very nearly spoiled it all when he got onto his "poor old mother," in whose last illness and funeral exercises we were not sufficiently interested.
Of course Mr. Deal was good, a man must be good and mighty good to suggest "Old Abe." Miss Gaunt as Alice Greer deserves sincere congratulations, she is pretty and conscientious, and she makes the part very inoffensive and endurable, which, considering the part, is a great deal. Miss Edith Wright as Mary is undoubtedly the star, leading man and leading lady and redeeming angel of the play. She is not too sweet nor too pert, nor too soft a la Fauntleroy . The critic has not lately seen a child actress of such promise.