Mr. Frank Mayo appeared last night at the Herald Square Theatre before a small audience in the initial production of his dramatization of Mark Twain's "Pudd'nhead Wilson." The audience seemed to be made up largely of the friends of the actor, an observation which applies, in point of time, only to the prologue and a portion of the first act. After everybody in the house had become the intimate of Pudd'nhead, the demonstrations of approval, at first merely friendly, became enthusiastic. Mr. Mayo's dramatization has preserved the flavor of the author's humor, and a real character walks the stage in the person of the client and [case starved?] country lawyer, with his shrewd philosophy and his contempt for the village blockheads who have made him the butt of their bucolic wit.
The play is sufficiently melodramatic to give Mr. Mayo opportunity to employ the methods with which his long experience has made him familiar. If anything, it suffers from a little too much plot, involving a little too much "talky" explication; yet this defect is easily susceptible of correction. The action hinges upon an identification by means of the thumbmarks of two persons, the scientific study of which has been Pudd'nhead's hobby. This identification brings his enemies to confusion and the play to a triumphant close. One of the most effective situations is that at the close of the third act, when the investigator believes his cherished theory exploded, its effectiveness being gained by its extreme simplicity. Wilson's forensic oratory in the last act, also, is excellently conceived, having neither too much nor too little of the spirit of the backwoods advocate. Mr. Mayo was supported by a competent company. Miss Mary Shaw as Roxy, the white slave-mother, acted with force and generally with good judgment. Mr. Henley was weighted down with the part of a very bad villain. Most of the actors were remarkably consistent in the use of their Southern accents. The play is a refreshing contrast to so much that has been produced upon the New York stage this season in that it is absolutely decent.
Mr. Mayo was obliged to respond to repeated curtain calls during the progress of the play, and at its close was obliged to speak his acknowledgements. He read the following dispatch from Mark Twain: "Cable me the jury's verdict." The audience cried in answer: "A success!"