Anonym anmelder i The Times
A novelty in a double sense was produced at this theatre on Monday night in the shape of an adaptation from the Norwegian by Messrs. H. A. Jones and H. Herman called Breaking a Butterfly. The original of this story is Ett Dukkehjem, one of a series of plays in which the popular Scandinavian dramatist, Henrik Ibsen, pleads for the intellectual elevation of women a conclusion which he enforces in the present instance by a grim and almost tragic ending to his story. In the adaptation little of this moral purpose appears, the dramatic material of the original, not very forcible it must be confessed, being cast into a conventional mould, where its didactic qualities evaporate. The incident forming the basis of the piece is a forgery committed by the young and giddy wife of a bank manager, the result of which is to throw that lady for a time into the power of a villainous bank clerk. There is no criminality in the act. It is her fathers name the misguided woman writes upon an acceptance, and the money is obtained for the very laudable purpose of giving her husband a change of air after illness. She has been treated all her lifetime as a doll, the title of the Norwegian piece being in fact The Dolls House, and she knows nothing of the ways of the world, at all events of the world of Threadneedle-street or Cornhill. Ibsen appears to hold that business men ought to talk business with their wives in the domestic circle, since the moral of the piece is that his heroine in her ignorance is more sinned against than sinned. Very wisely, however, the adapters have not insisted upon this view of the case. They allow villainy in the long run to be defeated, and happiness to be restored to the troubled home, and so no great harm ensues after all from the bankers neglect to initiate his wife into the mysteries of finance. The Norwegian dénouement is, indeed, of a kind hardly likely to commend itself to the ordinary playgoer in this country. When the forged document is recovered, husband and wife do not fall into each others arms and shed tears of joy. The «doll,» transformed into a woman, sternly resolves to have done with a husband who has not thought fit to acquaint her with the importance of never putting any name to a cheque but her own, and goes out into the world alone, the curtain falling upon the ominous shutting of the door behind her. Besides providing a conventional termination, the adapters have contrived an original situation by making the husband at one point assume responsibility for the forgery in order to shield his wife, but as nothing comes of this self-sacrifice on his part, the story is not thereby materially strengthened. The play as a whole cannot be described as impressive. It partakes rather of the nature of a storm in a tea-cup. Much stress is laid upon the wifes anxiety to keep her terrible secret from her husband until the villain himself divulges it, but it is hard to resist the conviction that her first impulse on realizing the enormity of her fault, and having regard to the circumstances in which that fault was committed, would be to confess all. Hence an apparent want of sincerity in the story. As the «doll,» Miss Lingard is charged with the interpretation of a species of light-hearted frivolity not much in harmony with her deliberate and measured style of art; but the character reveals, perhaps, her possession of an unsuspected degree of power in that direction. Similarly Mr. Kyrle Bellew is transformed successfully enough from a jeune premier into a grave and sedate man of business, and Mr. Anson from a low comedian into a useful young man of a type more common on the French stage than on our own. Mr. Beerbohm Tree and Mr. Maclean present rather striking embodiments of character as the villainous cashier and an aged but impecunious clerk, and Miss Helen Matthews, Mrs. Leigh Murray, and Miss Annie Maclean complete the cast in rôles of little individuality.