The French Revolution was the theme of that great play by which Sir John Martin Harvey will always be remembered – “The Only Way” – and it is evident that this popular English actor has found in those stirring days of France’s history the setting for another success of first rank – “Scaramouche.”
The Martin Harvey Company, minus their talented leader, who is not yet back on the stage following a serious operation in Toronto, opened a three-day run with “Scaramouche” at the Grand theatre on Monday evening.
Sir John was missed, as he naturally would be by Canadian audiences, to whom he has endeared himself, but before the performance was over on Monday evening the audience had given Mr. Gordon McLeod a tribute, the heartiness of which his eminent chief might well have been proud. It was a smaller audience than the play and its performance deserved, but the first-nighters made up in enthusiasm what they lacked in numbers.
Of Rafael Sabatini’s great tale, now dramatised in both movies and on legitimate stage, little need be said. Nearly everybody has read the story, seen the movie, seen the play or enjoyed it in all three forms. It is a great story written by a great story teller; written about those hectic days when France bubbled with drama; dipping for its life blood into the rich stream of incident that packs the pages of the revolution’s history.
On the stage it becomes a typical Harvey vehicle. It is healthy, blood-stirring melodrama – the kind of a [sic] play that makes a woman weepily happy and draws from a man the comment, “that’s a darn good show!” [Ugh!]
In taking the place of Sir John in the cast, Mr. McLeod starts with a great handicap. He overcomes that handicap to secure a genuine triumph. Those who failed to see the play because of the absence of Sir John made a sad mistake. Playing the daring, impetuous Andre-Louis Moreau, Mr. McLeod gave a performance that brought him back to the stage for many curtain calls between acts and a prolonged demonstration as the final curtain fell.
Miss N. de Silva (Lady Martin Harvey) has perhaps never been seen in Calgary to better advantage than she was on Monday playing the role of Climene, the leading lady in the Binet troupe. Her scenes with Mr. McLeod, particularly in the third act, were excellent. Both she and Mr. McLeod were at their best also in the second act, particularly in the scene in the stable, when Scaramouche starts on his tour with the players troupe.
With a melodramatic plot such as that of “Scaramouche,” a play is nothing without a villain, and the fact that the performance is such a success is not a little due to the fine acting of Mr. Eugene Wellesley, who plays the part of Gervaise de la Tour, the arch enemy and last act father of the hero. He was particularly good in the final dramatic scenes when the denouement takes place and everything is – well, very nearly – nearly to be happy ever after.
Miss Betty Belloc as Aline plays her part charmingly and contributes much to the success of a clever scene between herself and Mr. McLeod in the second act – when she brings forbidden aid to her (then not acknowledged) lover. The work of Mr. Leonard Daniels as Binet; Mr. John S. Burton in two parts, and Mr Eric Howard as Duroc, all deserve commendation.
In order to make it easier to follow the reviews, here is the programme of the Acts and Scenes:
ACT I. The Garden of the Breton Inn at Gavrillac.
ACT II. A Barn near Guichen.
ACT III. Scene 1. The Green room of the Feydeau Theatre at Nantes (morning)
Scene 3. The Stage of the Feydeau Theatre
ACT IV. Madame de Plougastel's Salon in Paris.