Gustave Frohman's company played " Lady Windermere's Fan " at the Lansing last night. The company is very much better than most of those which bear Mr. Gus Frohman's name. Indeed it is a company of very clever people. The cast is very nearly the same as last season with the exception of Mr. Hammell and of Charles Jehlinger , who makes a much more elegant and dangerous Lord Darlington than did Edward Emery. Perhaps the strongest member of the company is Olive Oliver , who plays the complex role of Mrs. Erlynne , the mother who never knew what motherhood meant until she sees in her daughter the danger of her own sin and of the same retribution. Miss Oliver simulates well the recklessness and the occasional spasmodic and unstable bursts of feeling and remorse which belong to women who can only learn to value love and purity after they have lost them; the remorse which can suffer but cannot regenerate, which can atone for its past by spasmodic heroism in a great crisis, but which cannot redeem its future. She assumes well, too, that strained, hectic mirth, whose laugh is only a futile mask for pain.
Miss Laura Gilvry is in most, perhaps in all, respects just what Lady Windermere should be. She is young enough to play it naturally and she has a beautiful face, to which innocence and pride are always possible. Her poses are always graceful and full of meaning. Her pride and anguish with her husband and her abjectness with her lover, her loathing for her own love that she thinks wasted and dishonored, seem the most real things in all that hopelessly artificial play. She is just a little monotonous and somewhat too insipidly good at times, but the part rather demands that.
Frank Gilmore played a difficult part with feeling and the proper English reserve. Leona Clark , as the Duchess , was as clever and heartless and complacent as ever, and Robert Jenkins made a dear old boy of tuffy , to whom everything was easily "explained."
As to the play, it amuses one even more on a second seeing than on a first, and the falseness of it jars less. When you are reconciled to the fact that the play has neither plot, construction nor truth, the wit goes down very well. The play abounds in cleverness, but lacks in imagination; is rich in words and poor in feeling and action. To put it mild, Mr. Wilde is an abortive son of England. He is not a normal Englishman. He utterly lacks the one English virtue, honest sincerity, and I cannot see what he has to compensate him for his loss. He has something of French cleverness, but it is poor in comparison with the original; something of French audacity, but it is forced where the French is natural. One thing nature did not give Mr. Wide —a heart. It is doubtful if all the gifts of all the gods and all the ingenuity of man can ever make up for that. "One thing thou lackest," sincerity, the soul of all great work, art's only excuse for being.