Taking the Curtain Call: The Life and Letters of Henry Arthur Jones

By Doris Arthur Jones | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X

ON 21st April, 1896, just four months after the failure of Michael, Willard produced The Rogue's Comedy at the Garrick Theatre. This play is the story of a tremendous struggle between father and son. The son, ignorant of his parentage, succeeds in unmasking and ruining his old rogue of a father, who has had an amazingly successful career of crime and trickery. In spite of the boy's action, the old man is instrumental in helping him to win the girl he loves, without disclosing to him his parentage. Most of the notices were very good, though G. B. S., in the Saturday Review, was rather tepid, and certain of the critics said that the play showed signs of having been written in a hurry. In over half a century as a dramatic author Henry Arthur only wrote one play in a hurry--the last two acts of Lydia Gilmore, which was produced in New York in 1912, with Margaret Anglin in the leading part. The time he took over writing his plays varied enormously; he spent nearly a year on The Tempter; The Liars he wrote in three months, and Dolly Reforming Herself in six weeks. Whatever faults there are in The Rogue's Comedy are not due to hurried workmanship. Whatever the reason, the play was a failure, though Willard produced it with great success in America and played it there for several seasons.

My father felt the hostile reception of this play very keenly. He often said, "They booed me steadily for twenty-five minutes after The Rogue's Comedy, and I swore I would never again take a call." He kept this vow for over twenty years, when he took a call for The Pacifists; and as an old man of seventy-two he again faced a first-

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