Mark Twain's "Pudd'nhead Wilson" is an intensely interesting story and Frank Mayo's dramatization of it makes it a grand, good play.
The presentation at the Opera House last night, which was attended by a good sized audience, was generally agreed upon as one of the best performances in both its intrinsic dramatic strength and histrionic art seen in Bangor in a long time and a packed house would have been a just tribute to its merit and thoroughly enjoyable quality.
It is unique, unhackneyed, possesses remarkable value as a native drama and is bound to hold a superior place in the esteem and affection of the theatre-going public. Mark Twain's crisp humor, his dry mannerisms and his delicate wit are reproduced in the play, along with the development of a strong plot, and the result is a wonderfully forceful drama of cumulative and striking interest.
There are many novel characters in "Pudd'nhead Wilson"--characters which make you laugh and characters which draw your deepest sympathies and they are such as you have not seen on the stage before. At the very beginning of the performance you may feel that the drama is going to be somewhat tame but that delusion is quickly dispelled and you find yourself following the powerfully drawn scenes with a feeling resembling the growing might and size of the ocean waves. The climaxes are splendidly worked up through scene after scene until the denouement, which sends you home with a feeling of grand satisfaction.
The time of the play is the period of 1836 and the place the State of Missouri. It deals with the interesting developments of the theory of "thumb marks" as a means of personal identification and is handled in a most entertaining manner.
Through extensive study of "thumb marks" made by Francis Galton, F.R.S., the English scientist, the "thumb mark" theory has lately been adopted as a means of criminal identification in England. He claims that there are no two in the world alike. It is upon this that Mark Twain has founded the remarkable story the dramatization of which gave so much pleasure last night.
But the play itself is not all. It has a most excellent company in every role and not a single part has been given to an inferior person. The proverbial fit of the glove and "der paper on der vall" applies to this organization and gives a finely balanced production of prologue and four acts in which details of costume and manner of speech and action are most carefully looked after.
Mr. Edwin F. Mayo, Frank Mayo's son, is "David" or "Pudd'nhead Wilson" and right well does he draw out the grand possibilites of the role. The simplicity and dry humor of gentle "Pudd'nhead" are delightfully sympathetic and Mr. Mayo's conception has that strong touch of reality which is so hard to portray on the stage.
The role of "Roxy," the negress slave but to all intents and purposes as white as white people, was treated with artistic skill by Miss Ada Dwyer, who both looked and acted the part very realistically.
Two novel and capitally acted parts are the twins, "Luigi Capello" and "Angello [sic] Capello," taken by Messrs. Harlem [sic] and Curtis respectively. They are decidedly interesting roles.
Miss Frances Mayo made a charming "Rowy"; Miss Stoddard's "Patsy Mason" was excellent; Mr. Johnson's "Chambers" and Mr. Campeau's "Tom Driscoll" met the opportunities of the parts finely and Mr. McKey's "Order in the court!" and seraphic smile as "Sheriff Blake" drew many a laugh.
Tonight's performance, the last of the engagement, should have a crowded house.