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are familiar with the story and many old playgoers have sweet memories associated with the character of Parthenia.
The Greek girl who goes among the barbarians, to redeem her father from slavery, must be, essentially, true; must impart the decisive impression of purity, gentleness, courage, honor, unconscious capability of heroism, and artless candor; and she must create the effect of absolute innocence and simplicity. Expert treatment of this character would always win admiration, but it would never arouse enthusiasm, because it would never touch the heart. Much depends on art, but more, especially in this case, on nature. Miss Marlowe, in her performance of Parthenia, when she revived it at the Empire Theatre, May 16, 1904, only deepened the charming impression that she had made in it as a girl; and she did so because,—while her personality was seen to have become ultra-potent for that of the Greek maid,—the essential goodness of her mind and temperament suffused the character, and filled it with warmth, loveliness, and light. A proficient actress knows, of course, how to seem ingenuous; how to express the pretty perversity of wilful girlhood, and how to employ the natural wiles of feminine allurement; but, over all that proficiency, there must be a certain glamour of spontaneous grace, and this can be diffused only by an actress from whose spirit it is liberated as the fragrance is from the rose. Miss Marlowe's impersonation evinced
mental nobility and spiritual grace, and, for the passing hour, she made an incredible achievement quite plausible by personal enchantment and by that grateful witchery of fancy which causes momentary oblivion of the generally arid world of fact. No other performer, since the happy time of Mary Anderson, has, in this or any kindred character, so convincingly expressed the frank, blithe courage that comes of absolute unconsciousness
danger, and therewithal the condition of simplicity which yet is alert with intelligence and piquant with arch and kindly mirth. The gradual growth of the girl's consciousness of the subjugation of the barbarian chief, and, later, her dawning perception of her own subjugation, were, in particular, deftly and sweetly denoted. The part, in a certain sense, and in the right person, plays itself, but it needs fine restraint and delicate tact, -especially at such passages as the repulse of Polydore, the cleansing of the cups, the assumption of the weapons, and the supplication to the Timarch. In those passages Miss Marlowe showed the value of her ample experience. For impetuosity and tragical force there is little opportunity. Parthenia is an image of loveliness, and as such she was admirably presented. The one outburst of tragical emotion occurs at the moment of the girl's defiance of the barbarian, when his delirium of passion bids fair to overwhelm them both. There the actress aroused an enthusiastic response: but her predominant triumph was in the gentler aspects of womanhood. The
exquisite modulation of her voice had a delicious effect. The delicate flexibility of her elocution, sequent on fine intelligence and sympathetic feeling, descending into every word and making every shade of meaning instantly obvious, made her delivery a continuous delight. Miss Marlowe, in her later revivals of this old drama (derived from a German original and known to our Stage, intermittently, for about sixty years), judiciously condensed it, making slight alterations that accelerated its movement and enhanced its effect. Cynicism may smile at this old play and its impossible story: the sneer is always easy: but our Theatre sadly needs relief from a burdensome, destructive literature of vice and folly, and, until superior modern talent provides a dramatic fabric in which equal purity of spirit, romance of atmosphere, and beauty of feeling are displayed in a better way and in accordance with prosaic probability, “Ingomar” ought always to receive a cordial welcome.
On April 10, 1899, Miss Marlowe appeared at the Knickerbocker Theatre, acting the chief part in a drama called “Colinette,” which had been translated and adapted for her use from a French original, and in her performance of its heroine she captured the public sympathy and approval, equally by her buoyant demeanor, her woman-like tenderness, and her decisive dramatic skill. The play tells a romantic story, by means of
expeditious action, and, as a fabric of romance, it possesses unusual charm. It was written by MM. Lenotre and Martin, and was originally produced at the Odéon Theatre, Paris, in 1898. The English version was made by the late Henry Guy Carleton, and it was made well-being carefully and smoothly written and, as presented by Miss Marlowe and her associates, its dramatic value was enforced with brilliant ability and excellent effect.
The scene is laid in France, immediately on the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy, after Waterloo, and the story implicates a whimsical French monarch, a licentious and crafty chief of police, and an imperial officer and his merry, capricious, affectionate wife, together with various persons of minor moment, all of whom are deftly tangled in a web of intrigue which is partly amatory and partly political. The officer, in striving to save the life of a friend, drifts into serious peril,—becoming involved in a Bonapartist conspiracy against King Louis the Eighteenth, and liable to be executed for treason. The wife proves herself to be capable not only of fascination but of heroism. The King is made to arrange one of those merry plots for which, in English history, King James the First was remarkable, and an escape is planned, for the imperilled officer, which resembles that of the Earl of Nithsdale, who, by the aid of his intrepid, ingenious wife, fled from the Tower of London, in the reign of King George the
First, disguised as a woman. The King, on being supplicated by the lady to spare her husband's life, fancies that he would like to see her in male attire, and therefore he drops a hint, which he surmises will be taken, as to the adoption of disguises by herself and her husband, and thereafter he intercepts them in their flight and so accomplishes his mischievous though kindly purpose. The wicked minister is discomfited, and there is a happy close to a season of danger and suspense. Julia Marlowe, as Colinette, passing with delightful ease from roguish humor to melting tenderness, touched the springs alike of laughter and tears, and gave a performance of singular flexibility and of exceptionally artistic grace, such as not only pleases while passing but leaves in the memory an abiding ideal of noble and lovable womanhood.
The fiction that the slogan of the MacGregor was heard, far off, by a Scottish lass at Lucknow, just before the relief, prompted Dion Boucicault to write his capital drama of “Jessie Brown,” which was a great success in its day and still is pleasurably remembered. The fiction that an old woman displayed the National flag in Fredericktown and adjured the victorious Confederates to shoot her gray head rather than to fire upon that banner prompted the late Clyde Fitch to write the play of “Barbara Frietchie,” which was presented on October 23, 1899, at the Criterion Theatre,