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The Dramatic Club will stage the first performance of its play, "The Orange Comedy" by Gilbert Seldes '14 this evening in Brattle Hall. The following pre-review of the production was written especially for the Crimson by Mr. Seldes.
The chief point, if any, of "The Orange Comedy," is that it has no serious intention and, at least intentionally, no serious moments. If any seriousness is discovered in the play, it will be eliminated at the dress rehearsal, and a song-and-dance team from Keith's will be substituted.
"The Orange Comedy" is based on an old Italian play which was in turn based on a familiar-Italian nursery tale or bedtime story. The present version has nearly as much consecutive plot as good Ziegfeld revue and is staged in much the same manner. The only difference is that "The Orange Comedy" is a little less logical than a revue and a little more satirical. It is, in fact, a satirical extravaganza, in which the extravagance is more visible and more important than the satire.
Fresh in Method and Manner
I wrote the play with a definite intention, and it has been a pleasure to arrive at the final rehearsals and find that intention has been perfectly carried out. Mr. Edward Massey, the director for the Harvard Dramatic Club, has invented a thousand entertaining pieces of business where I had left great gaps in the play--and every one of these is entirely in keeping with the major intention of the play. The result is a production which seems to me entirely fresh in method and refreshing in manner.
Venice and America Similar
Oddly enough, the Venice of the seventeenth century and America of our own time, seem to have many points of similarity. It was vastly entertaining to find, in reading the old comedies, that the authors were using the same tricks, the same jokes, as are common in our vaudeville, burlesque, and musical shows. Business which we associate with Chaplin, Jolson, Tinney, Bobby Clark, Fannie Brice, and the Four Marx Brothers, was invented by the Harlequins and Sganarellos of the Venetian comedy; subjects which are treated in full page advertisements today, were touched off in light repartee on the trestles and boards of Italy two and a half centuries ago. All I have done, in many instances, is translation putting down the current slang instead of the forgotten expressions.
Intended for Pure Entertainment
The Dramatic Club is, therefore, presenting a Harlequinade and a squad of sharpshooters will be stationed tonight outside Brattle Hall to pick off anybody meaning with the intention of discovering a deep and profound symbolism, a meaning, or a moral, in it. The old theatre was intended for pure entertainment; and without prejudice to profundity in the theatre, the present effort goes back to that ancient tradition. It is nearer to knockabout farce than it is to lesbian its source is the theatre in which the Slapstick was the great instrument of percussion and of humor.
I feel exceptionally detached from this play, since it is on a foreign original and since it was produced in my absence. At the moment of writing I have seen one desperate rehearsal; and as a friendly critic I predict a great success.
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