Warmed, in spite of the bad weather, by a larger audience than on Sunday night, Edwin Mayo and company presented an even more admirable rendition of "Pudd'nhead Wilson" at the Metropolitan last evening.
From the first line in the prologue to the finale, when the almost melodramatic vindication of Pudd'nhead's genius and his fad occurs, relieved by the ever recurrent puzzle of the half dog, the living, breathing spirit of Dawson, Mr. Mayo and his company had the audience alternately moved to tears or provoked to bursts of laughter.
Mr. Edwin Mayo is not the creator of Pudd'nhead. He is suffering under the weight of what presses on other men who have had distinguished fathers who lived before them, as was, perhaps, remarked by the author of the story in which Mayo the younger is now following his paternal ancestor. Comparisons, however, are not odious in this case, for Edwin Mayo is showing the dramatic world that the talent in the family is not dead. That he is content to follow generally the lines of his father's creation detracts not from the entire amiability and perennial good nature of the briefless barrister whose library rots in the dust while he gleans in the harvest field of human nature, largely from the balls of other folks' thumbs. Mark Twain won new plaudits from the reading world when he made his muse drape herself in a gown of modern penology and wear it gracefully. Edwin Mayo is left to make the personality of Pudd'nhead as familiar to and as popular with the eye as Mark made him in the mental picture. The task is in good hands.
Roxy, the slave girl, whose white child, almost white, at least, is the central figure in the dramatic action, is the best thing Miss Ada Dwyer has done in St. Paul, where she is not a stranger. She is at her best, perhaps, in the scene with her scapegrace son, the changeling, in the second act, although in the less tragic scenes of the prologue she makes a good impression through her excellent pantomime.
Frank Campeau's Tom Driscoll is good. He is less stagey than the usual villain, and gives a careful study of the role, commensurate with its importance, and yet with an evident remembrance that there are other actors--one thing that so many others forget.
Ralph Dean's Chambers is a clean-cut performance of a part that only once or twice gives scope to what the young man seems to have in him.
W. R. McKey's Sheriff Blake is one of the best bits of character work done here recently. The idyllic, or, possibly rather, bucolic dignitary of the law is entrusted to an unctuous comedian, who lives to the limit the ultra-provincial sheriff who was painted by Twain in lines that seemed almost exaggerated.
Miss Maribel Seymour is a delightful Rowey [sic], and the roles of York Driscoll and Howard Pembroke are played acceptably by Charles J. Edmonds and Augustus Balfour.
The scenic setting is thoroughly in keeping with the piece, and the ruined mill in the second act is especially picturesque.
"Pudd'nhead Wilson" will be the bill all the week.