"Le Maitre de Forges," a comedy in four acts by George Ohnet, was presented last night by players of the Theatre Francais at the Copley Theatre. Of the three plays in their Boston repertory it is perhaps the least interesting, its predecessor "Sapho" being a classic of the theatre, and "La Rafale," which will be seen tomorrow evening, a capital melodrama of the efficient Bernstein type. Perhaps "Le Maitre de Forges" is considered a dramatic classic also in Paris. It is what the French understand by a comedy.
The play concerns a woman of noble rank who is jilted by her lover, the Duo de Bligny, and in a reaction of shame and anger becomes engaged to a virtuous and prosperous Ironmaster who is ardently in love with her. The rest of the play, to quote the words of the program, is taken up with the wife's "gradual realization of her husband's many good qualities." There is, of course, an inevitable heavy father, not to mention a mother, a Marquise of correspondingly ponderable emotions. More witty by play is furnished by a pair of comic married lovers. The most notable quality of this sparkling effort is its remarkable loquacity. It is one of those characteristically Gallio dramas in which after a full half-hour of rapid dialogue the heroine remarks to the hero: "Alors, mon ami, causons un peu." They then sit down comfortably and continue it for another half-hour. Words cannot describe the perfect Niagaras of conversation, the torrents of talk. And it is all declaimed in an incredible literary jargon which is like nothing in France, or the world, or anywhere except the boards of the Odeon and the Ambigu. The following is a good enough example.
Heroine: I have forgotten you; I love my husband.
Hero: (melodiously) Claire!
Heroine: Adieu Duc!
It only remains to add that the lady, on receiving a conjugal salute from her husband on the morning of her birthday, remarks in a voice of utter despair: "Triste baiser!"
A word as to the extremely proficient acting. It is impossible perhaps for an American wholly to understand the hard, rapid, brilliant, soullessly technical style of French acting in general. The company now at the Copley is very representative of this style. Mm. Darthy, as the eye-rolling, contralto-voiced heroine was interesting. During the big scene, when Claire tells her Ironmaster she has never loved him, I watched M. Benedict, as the latter, to see how a French husband is supposed to act under such circumstances. The result was rather funny. M. Cassin, as the Duke, did not look very much like a nobleman--even a French nobleman. M. Lomon was excellent in a small role.
But why do people say the French are gay? CUTHBERT WRIGHT ocC.