"The Dawn of a To-morrow."
By Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Produced at the Garrick Theatre - 14th May, 1910.
Principal cast members: Miss Gertrude Elliott, Mr. Herbert Waring, Messrs. Jameson Lee Finney, J. H. Barnes, James Hearn, James Geldard, Philip Leslie, Henry Ainlie, Parish Robertson, Misses Ada Dwyer, Jane Comfort, Marie Boyd, Maude Buchanan, Magdaleine Cotta, Violet Cragie, Portia Knight, and others.
There is doubtless a large public for the play with a moral, and for such a public "The Dawn of a To-morrow" should prove extremely interesting. Sir Oliver Holt is suffering from a terrible disease, the name of which is not known to the audience. Three specialists have been consulted, and although two of them are agreed that his case is hopeless, the third holds to the theory that a change of thought, atmosphere and environment will effect a cure. Sir Oliver, however, overhears part of the consultation, and as he cannot bear the thought of dying by degrees, he resolves to shoot himself.
With this in view he disguises himself and journeys to an East-End slum, there to make an end of all things as an unknown man. It is a foggy night in Apple Blossom Court when we next see him at the corner of an archway, watching the misery and squalor that surround him. His heart is touched with sympathy for the lost, half dead, human beings. A slum girl, known in the neighbourhood as "Glad," because she is always merry and looks on the bright side of things, talks to Sir Oliver. Her creed is "to keep from thinking of troubles!" "Nothin'," she says, " is half so bad as we think it is, and if we keep thinkin' of something else we don't mind half as much."
"Glad" is in love with Dandy, a young criminal, who has been mixed up in a murder, and for whom the police are searching. A visiting Sister of Mercy once told her that if she asked for a thing, and believed she would get it, her prayer would be answered. She asks that the police will not find Dandy, and they do not find him. She asks Sir Oliver to help her and her friends, and he does so. In the midst of a meal provided by Sir Oliver the police enter, and demand of "Glad" the knowledge of Dandy's whereabouts. Although she has hidden him, she swears she does not know where he is. Their search in the garret is in vain.
Now, it happens that Dandy was not one of the murderers; he refused to go on with the job and left the others. He had happened to see Mr. Oliver Holt, Sir Oliver's nephew, as the clock struck one, and spoke to him. As the murder took place at one o'clock at Hampstead, it is obvious that Dandy could prove an alibi if Mr. Oliver Holt would stand as witness. "Glad" prays, keeps "arstin' and arstin'," and goes off to Mr. Holt's rooms to compel him to speak for Dandy. "If I do," says Mr. Holt, "will you come to me?." To save Dandy, "Glad" nearly consents, when Sir Oliver and the police burst into the room. "Glad" prays again, and asks Mr. Holt, before his uncle and the police, whether he saw Dandy at one o'clock in the morning. "Yes," says Mr. Holt. The search for Dandy is then discontinued, and in return "Glad " says nothing to Sir Oliver about certain of his nephew's immoral proposals to her. We can only suppose that Sir Oliver lives to a ripe old age. and finally bestows his fortune upon his nephew.
Miss Gertrude Elliott's rendering of "Glad" is the backbone of the whole piece. She has just caught the wild-cat nature of the East-End girl of the slums, with a heart as large as her body. Mr. Herbert Waring as Sir Oliver Holt, Mr. Jameson Lee Finney as Mr. Oliver Holt, and Mr. Henry Ainley as Dandy gave interesting performances.
The Playgoer and Society Illustrated, Volume 2 No. 9.