I SUPPOSE that every ordinary regular theatre-goer has his complaints about the dramatic critic, and most certainly, every dramatic critic has his complaint about the ordinary theatre-goer.
Myself, I love the dramatic critic, especially when he tells me how desperately full his daily letter-bag is. All I want is to see him happy, and for one's letterbag to be full is apparently, for a dramatic critic, the height of happiness! But at times I would like a point to be made that isn't made. The critics say so many things about the theatre, are, on the whole, so lively and amusing and interested, that it seems churlish to complain, but I do feel that there is only one of them who ever distinguishes between uncreative acting and creative acting.
By creative acting I mean, I suppose, the ability of the actor to make something out of the material given to him that is a created work additional to his material. Irving, whom alas! I never saw, was, I believe, a master creator, and one leading actor of our day is exactly the opposite of this: that is, he shows you to perfection the material that he has been given, neither more nor less.
He is so perfectly accomplished that you don't ask him to do more than he does, but the old pantomime men--Dan Leno, Herbert Campbell and the rest--were masterly creators in the sense that they created a great deal out of nothing at all; indeed, as I get on with my subject I am beginning to wonder whether the actor as creator is not always at his best when he has almost nothing to work on.