"We, The People," a play in four acts by J. F. Ballard and E. C. Ranck, had its first production on any stage at the Castle Square yesterday. Not too interestingly, not too realistically, not too subtly, the authors have told a story that in its several parts, at least, is not too new.
Phil Durgan, convicted for embezzling money from a bank to help his father, who is about to be bankrupted by unscrupulous politicians engaged in that practice, saves the life of the warden of the penitentiary in an attempted escape of several convicts. Durgan is pardoned and goes west with his mother to start life over again. There he becomes a successful business man, and is called upon to accept the nomination for mayor of the town. At the proper moment, the local boss confronts Durgan with the facts of his past life, and threatens to publish them, unless Durgan agrees to veto a bill for a new water works, one of the chief issues of the campaign. Durgan, of course, refuses, the boss releases the story by means of Durgan's own phone, it appears in an extra, and the mob enters enraged. Then Durgan makes a great speech to it, tells it the truth about himself, also what he is doing for it, the people, and once more the people turn to his support.
This theme of the reformed criminal being confronted by his past when he has set his hand to good works is as old as Jean Valjean and as young as Jimmy Valentine. In each case it has been as genuine as the character about whom it revolved, and no more so. Unfortunately, Phil Durgan in "We The People" is not sufficiently tangible as a character to let us judge of this. In action he is at best merely a hero, and in the cross-examination of the third act, a hero somewhat at a loss for smart things to say.
On the whole, the play was satisfactorily acted and received an enthusiastic reception from the large audience. Messrs. Ranck and Ballard cannot doubt, at least, that there is very live interest in whatever they bring forth.