Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/137

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of late to adapt the Greek tragedies. Œdipus the King has in this way been given new popularity. But the witty critics, wishing to show that they cannot be deceived, took great pains to point out that Œdipus was fundamentally nothing but melodrama (with a secret pride, no doubt, in having convicted Sophocles of his inferiority to the modern dramatists). They are not mistaken in calling the play melodrama: Œdipus is a melodrama, and one of the most horrible of its kind. The Oresteia is another, but not even M. d'Ennery would have dared write such sensational horrors as are found in this trilogy.

The Elizabethan drama of England was people's drama. From time to time certain of Shakespeare's plays are produced here. The critics can never sufficiently praise the marvelous acting, the exquisite setting, the able stage-management, the exquisite music, and the admirable translation (though sometimes they attribute to Shakespeare the inventions of the translator!); but they seem to insinuate that Shakespeare is very lucky indeed to be produced with all these elements of success, without mentioning the greatest of all: the prestige of age. They insinuate that A Midsummer Night's Dream is nothing but farce, and Macbeth a melodrama with ridiculous bloody ghosts, remorse, and all the sickly-conscience paraphernalia—a regular Ambigu "melo." And of course, people of taste cannot help laughing at the wholesale slaughter at the end of Hamlet. When King Lear is produced the audience is spared