Nat Goodwin played "A Gilded Fool" to standing room at the Funke last night. It was one of those satisfactory productions which are exquisite in detail. The stage settings were both elaborate and artistic and the usual glaring unrealness of stage surroundings was almost entirely overcome. There were real goldfish in the aquarium, real chrysanthemums on the tables and Perkins sprayed real perfume on Short's coat. Mr. Goodwin's company is in good taste, like his stage settings. Miss Minnie Dupree is gifted with a good voice and charming intonation and a determined naturalness. Without being the least bit sentimental, she likes Jack so much more really and sensibly than women generally like on the stage, just as any other girl might, and not at all like an actress. Miss Lilla Vane is just a little too careful and correct in her elocution and too precise in her pronunciation. She leaves the audience with a painful consciousness of just how she sounded her "as" and "es." She is rather too angelic to be appreciated and she tried to reconcile too many colors in one of her gowns. Estelle Mortimer still holds her place in matters dramatic, as she has held it lo! these many years.
As to Mr. Goodwin himself, well, he is just Mr. Goodwin, jolly, easy-going, clever Nat Goodwin. A good deal of a Bohemian, considerable of a chappy, something of a vagabond, and just enough of an artist to redeem all the other ingredients. It is true that Mr. Goodwin only plays one role under many names, but in that role he is a clever and skilful actor. It is true that his personality and peculiar temperament limit him rigidly, but if they make certain lines of comedy entirely impossible for him, they also especially fit him for others. The coarser phases of his role seem to come to him just a little too easily, so easily that they jar on one at times. Yet when he was serious last night it was with effect. He tore that rose to pieces like a man who could feel, and he said his "thousand years of life and sunlight" line like a man who had a little of the poet in him after all. He gave that long and difficult monologue about his mother and his youth without being prosy, and if he did not put real feeling into it then he can imitate feeling wonderfully well. Mr. Go odwin is not of the highest order of artists who can shake off the fetters of the flesh and set aside the limitations of temperament; who can "rise on stepping stones of their dead selves to higher things." Mr. Goodwin has not crucified his "self." It is very much alive and it is his limit. But within that limit he is all that any man could be. He belongs to the great majority of good actors who cannot escape from their own shadows. The actor who can be other and greater than himself is the rare exception.