As the unobtrusive wife of Ekdal in last week's "Wild Duck," Blanche Yurka failed to stand out from her supporting cast as much as some had expected. In truth the part did not call for it, nor did Miss Yurka care to undermine the brilliant work of others in the cast. In such self effacement she was living up to the traditions of great acting.
After such a performance it was interesting to see if she could just as readily assume command of her stage, as merely live on it. "Enter Madame" demanded that she should. Still one wondered if she could change from a homely, stupid peasant woman to a glittering star of the opera. It seemed practically impossible that she could do the thing gracefully.
But although we ourselves doubted Miss Yurka's adaptability, prior to Monday, we never remember having seen so complete a transformation, on the stage before. She was foreign, she was fascinating, she was alluring. Without the usual qualification of beauty, she gave an impression of beauty. To her belonged the charm of a facile temperament, soft clinging gowns, add sentences of Russian and French stuck in here and there. And as Lisa, the capricious and the magnificent, she ruled her audience as gently and as cleverly as she ruled her family.
It is not our purpose this week to speak in superlatives of the cast. They played soundly and steadily through their parts, but they were always in the shadow of madame. The authors had probably willed it so. We should like to mention Mr. Thorn for his excellent bit as madame's chef, gesticulating, grimacing, and rushing foolishly about the stage in the immemorial way of Frenchmen. He was the perfectly fantastic foreigner, thinking orange blossoms and truffles, operas and endives. Peg Entwhistle deserves commendation also, for although she was forced to act the sweet young thing, she came nearer looking the part than many an elderly ingenue. Considering her youth and her work in "The Wild Duck," we predict for her a bright future.
As for the play itself, it is neither very light nor very heavy. The management bills it as an ingenious comedy of the artistic temperament, which perhaps it is, if you know what they mean by that. Assuredly there is nothing either very vital or very comical about the methods which a Grand Opera star employs to regain her family. It is just pleasing fare, which you can go to and enjoy any old time. Unfortunately the talents of Miss Yurka are more at a premium.