Never has the Cercle Francais chosen a more appropriate play than "Fanny Lear" as is clearly shown by the tremendous success of the first performance which took place yesterday at the Copley Theatre, Boston. This does not mean that the play is an easy one to act, in fact, in many ways, it is more difficult than any the Cercle has attempted in recent years: It is not a play of humorous situations and great actions but rather of a subtler type involving keen appreciation of the French language on the part of all actors. There is much repartee both humorous and serious, every line containing much more than the words alone would indicate.
Scott Brothers at Best.
From this it is evident that such a play could not be a success without considerable dramatic talent and expert coaching. Surely the Cercle is very fortunate in obtaining both of these requisites in great abundance. Those who have seen the plays of the Cercle before are already familiar with the dramatic powers of the Scott brothers, but never before have they had parts which suited their style of acting so well. The tragic, old, decrepit, and insane Marquis stands out above all the other parts under the remarkable interpretation given it by War-wick Scott. No one who saw the play could help from being thrilled by the fourth act, the climax of the drama.
Edgar Scott in the part of Birnheim admirably fills one of the humorous roles of the play and has the laughter of the audience at his call at all times. Not so noticeable but excellent for that very reason is the acting of Hardinge Scholle in the part of Frondeville. Coming in every act and almost every scene with by far the longest part he is what might well be called the back-bone of the play. His part is that of host at his country chateau where the scene of the play is laid while most of the action of the play is executed by the rest of the cast.
Only One Frenchman in Cast.
The only native Frenchman in the cast is Dominique Andollent, who takes the part of Callieres. As a young lover, his acting is admirable. As he only joined the cast of the play three days before the first performance, the ease with which he executes his role is almost miraculous.
The Cercle is most fortunate in its having discovered such remarkable dramatic ability and mastery of French among the girls of Boston Society. Those who saw "Lire" in 1918 will remember how well Mrs. Charles Sumner Bird Jr. executed the leading feminine role. This year she has the title role in "Fanny Lear". Her acting is very impressive--if anything a little too much so. In some spots especially in her long dialogue with Frondeville in the third act her desire for effect makes the scene drag a little.
Bragglotti Sisters Win Audience
Many have seen the Misses Braggiotti dance on the stage but I believe this is their first appearance in drama. Surely everybody who saw Fanny Lear hopes that it will not be their last. Miss Francesca Braggiotti takes the part of the daughter of the old Marquis. She wins the audience by her graceful acting and attractive appearance on the stage. Miss Berthe Braggiotti as Marie de Frondeville is the hostess at the chateau but is also sufficiently involved in the plot to show great ability in acting in delicate situations.
Although there was only one Frenchman in the cast the rest might all have been natives of Paris so perfect were their accents and mastery of the very difficult French inflections.
The only obvious criticism one could make of the play was that it went a little slowly in spots but this was amply made up for by the many striking features.