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The New York Times, September 17, 1874


Mark Twain's drama, called "The Gilded Age," was represented at this house last evening. "The Gilded Age" is a play dealing with possible incidents of American life, and in which none but American characters move. We have recorded so many unsuccessful efforts to produce a passable piece of this sort, that we confess to having awaited Mr. Twain's performance with a very slight anticipation of its excellence. It disappointed us, we are glad to say, most agreeably. "The Gilded Age" is by no means a model drama, but it enfolds a tolerably interesting story, several scenes of which might be acted off the stage, and some personages whose traits are no more exaggerated than is necessary for their effectiveness upon the audience. A large assemblage witnessed its recital, and accorded to it attention and applause. The plot of "The Gilded Age" is of extreme simplicity. It sets forth plainly that Col. George Selby, a married man, has seduced Laura Hawkins, and that the young lady - as the prototype supplied by recent American history - soon afterward kills her seducer, and goes unpunished. There is sufficient dramatic force in these events for the framework in which the minor transactions of the play are bound, and out of them grows at least on impressive picture - the slaying of Col. Selby by Laura Hawkins. Certain it is, however, that "The Gilded Age" pleased chiefly on account of a character not at all essential to the main story. The comicalities of Col. Sellers kept the spectators merry throughout the whole four acts. This personage has been compared to Micawber, but Micawber's imagination is feeble compared to that of Col. Sellers, and for breadth and rosiness, the plans developed by the Western settler are literally unprecedented. Utterly insane as some of Col. Sellers' theories appeared, everybody present recognized that in real life, Col. Sellers has many relatives as visonary and as sanguine as he, and the occasional touches of nature proved, as always, very potent. Mr. John Raymond assumed this role with an earnestness which insured his success. He evidently deceived himself with his splendid projects more thoroughly than he managed to deceive the most credulous of his listeners, and the perfect heartiness of all his speeches, together with the absence of self-consciousness in his wildest eccentricities, rendered his personation as artistic as it was striking. The merriment was loud and continuous. The interest of the serious transactions of the night would have been much heightened had the company been more efficient. The one trying scene in "The Gilded Age," however, was exceedingly well performed by Miss Gertrude Kellogg. Frequent plaudits interrupted the representation in an intermission of which Mr. Twain was summoned before the curtain, whence he delivered an address that afforded considerable amusement. "The Gilded Age" remains on the bills until further notice.

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