Mortimer's three-act comedy "Gloriana" was presented to a good audience at the Lansing last night. After one had seen a play put on almost perfectly it is hard, perhaps, to be just to an inferior presentation. The play last night was at no time absolutely bad, but it was enacted in a much lower and coarser tone than it was written. The play "Gloriana" is the nicest sort of legitimate comedy, none of the comedy is forced, there is almost no repartee, the fun is all evolved by the consistency of the characters under all the circumstances in which they are placed and is simply character consequence. But not every actor can enact a consistent character, and last night there was very little mirth because no character was strongly enough marked to appear funny in the mild situations of the play. The play is a neat and delicate satire on high life, the actors made it a burlesque. Miss Chapman and her company would appear to good advantage in many comedies that are on the road, but "Gloriana" is a particularly difficult play to enact, to make it good even the servants must be impersonators. It is a bit of the "Comedie Humaine," which, up to date, is the greatest comedy on the boards, and the hardest to enact. It takes such great actors to act a natural play.
The character of Mrs. Gloriana Lovering , "as it was written," is dashing and unique. There is nothing just like it in English plays, it is rather a French conception. She is a decidedly rapid, though very frank woman, who has run the whole gamut of dukes and counts and has found her last count a little too much for her, and desires something less complex. She has been enormously practical for years, and, being tired of the value received plan, wants to try a little romance. She has arrived at that prosperous stage of her career where she can afford to indulge in a little sentiment. The Ray Blas idea fascinates her, but when Fitz Jocelyn is divested of his gorgeous livery his attractions vanish. He is only a man, just like any other man. He wears gloves and creased trousers, and may in time even wear a red necktie like Count Evetoff . So Gloriana cheerfully resigns her idea of love for love's sake, decides that practical remunerative affection is eminently her sphere, and goes back to the count, who is a very convenient old count after all. New gowns and diamonds soon hush that little longing for the bliss of self-sacrifice which most of the Glorianas of the world feel vaguely at some time or other. That is the "Gloriana" that Emily Banckor played. Miss Chapman dwells too much on the coarser side of the character. Gloriana wasn't coarse. She was a lady, every inch of her, if she was a widow with a history. Miss Chapman makes her an adventuress with a taste for intrigue. Gloriana was a dilettante in love, not a professional. She was simply a woman who was in search of variety and who thoroughly and deliciously enjoyed being naughty. She couldn't be bad any more than a butterfly could; naughty was the limit of her capacity. Miss Chapman made her too heavy, she broke the butterfly on a wheel. Gloriana should be dashing, not loud. Her kisses and costumes should be racy, but in good taste. Miss Chapman's were neither. Miss Chapman may be a good comedienne, but she is neither physically nor artistically fitted for the role of Gloriana.
Mr. Frederick Weber as Fitz Jocelyn was too deliberate. When he took the trouble to work himself up he did very well.
Mr. Twiner as Mr. Chadwick was particularly good. He worked hard and to some purpose. With his physique no fault could be found. Mr. Walter Brooks made a thoroughly bourgeoise count. His acting was spirited and he kept the role moderately clean and distinct, but his work lacked the fine touches necessary to bring out a type of the Russian nobility and his accent was a mongrel French and German substituted for Russian. Mr. Hallton as Spinks made a very good American valet, but was not at all English except in an occasional dropping of his "h." An English gentleman would never employ a man with natural and limber spine like Mr. Hallton's. Miss Alston as Kitty was consistent in her acting and had a very good English accent. At no point was the play absolutely bad, but neither was it absolutely good. As a whole the acting lacked intelligence and keen perception.