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Nebraska State Journal

October 14, 1894
page 6


Gus Heege's farce comedy "Rush City" drew a good house at the Lansing last night. "Rush City" is a play of the farcical Hoyt order, largely and lengthily interspersed with specialties, some of which were very fair, especially Miss Osbourne's song, "The Game of Craps." Mr. O'Brien as Tarantula Tom gave a contortionist exhibition which called forth howls of delight from the crowded gallery. The play is of the Hoyt type, but nobody can do Hoyt but Hoyt. Some way or other he has a way of making nothingness hang together and, for the time, seems tangible. Mr. Heege cannot do that. He has written a very good comedy, but he cannot write a farce. There is in this one no thread of plot, and the play defies even the very loose canons of farce comedy. The central idea of the play is good and, what is better, new, but Mr. Heege never took the trouble to work out his idea; he forgets it at the close of the first act, which, by the way, is the best act. The plot which the author intended to follow before he forgot it runs thusly: John J. Rush , an enterprising real estate man, buys a tract of arid land in Alkali township, Tarantula county, Okl. He puts up a few buildings, digs acres of foundation holes and sells the town lots to New Yorkers. He picks up a motley colony and founds Rush City, where the rain never falls, and they have to set traps for the rattle snakes and keep the thermometer on ice. The citizens grow discontentek, the playwright gets tired, and the town is swept away by a cyclone. The scenery was excellent and, to anyone who has had the misfortune to dwell in a small Nebraska town, painfully reminiscent. There was a saloon, a Keeley institute, a real estate office, a peanut stand, the office of the Rush City Bazoo and a well equipped public cyclone cellar. The scenic effects of the cyclone were good and presumably realistic. The main objection to the play is that there is too much tedious and irrelevant joking. The play seems to have been too short and then lengthened by splicing it with cullings from the newspaper gag column of the last century. Occasionally the play on words was good, but for the most part they were grandfather jokes, jokes that had lost their teeth and wore white whiskers. There were some jokes there that were sprung on the field of Marathon, chestnuts that were popped at the pass of Thermopylae, and gags that had drooped and pined long 'ere Rome fell. If those mute jokes could speak what tales they could tell us of the forgotten glories of the past, of Ninevah and Babylon and kingdoms that have crumbled into dust. Even the cigar story was repeated, that tale upon whose lowly grave the grasses have many a year been growing. It is said that Nero once killed a slave for telling him a joke that was not new; in all probability it was the cigar story, and the bored emperor was justified in his course.