"The Red Light of Mars" is an exceedingly clever skit, in which a number of old theatrical ideas are employed with notable ingenuity. It is not only very amusing reading, but is admirably adapted to effective dramatic representation. Although in the nature of extravaganza, it deals vigorously and satirically with many questions of present Interest and tells a good human story. Into the details of this, as the piece is to be tried on the stage before very long, it is not necessary to go now, but it abounds in comical and emotional situation. The good angel of it is our old friend the Devil, who now figures as a benevolent agent engaged in the work of preparing mankind for ultimate translation to a loftier sphere of existence in Mars. The personages include a brilliant young chemist, who believes himself on the verge of the discovery of the secret of immortality; a multi-millionaire, who would bribe him to devote his science to mere money-making purposes; an anarchic Socialist who believes in bombs as the sole means of social regeneration; a cultivated widow who loves the millionaire, but will not marry him because she detests his business principles and methods, and her daughter, a frivolous, selfish girl, who refuses to marry the chemist, who worships her, unless he will abandon philanthropic experiment to earn money to keep her in fashionable luxury. When the chemist calls upon the Devil for aid, the complacent fiend-who is compelled on earth to occupy a human body-effects a general metempsychosis. He himself becomes the chemist, puts the chemist into the body of the anarchist, and the anarchist into that of the millionaire, whose disembodied spirit is condemned for a season to flutter disconsolately in space.
The nature of the misunderstandings, consternations, and self-searchings arising from these transformations may be imagined. Mr. Howard weaves them most dexterously into the action of his plot, and freights his whimsical notion with a plentiful ballast of common-sense. All the sufferers profit by their startling experience. The millionaire realizes that labor has Its rights, and capital its duties, and thus wins the hand of his widow; the anarchist is awakened to the iniquity and folly of his ways, and is rescued from the police, and the chemist i made happy by the conversion of his charmer into a loving and devoted woman by the masterful conduct of the Devil while tenanting her lover's shape. Plentifully endowed by the repentant Croesus, he is at liberty henceforth to work for the benefit of his fellow creature's. As serious drama the piece necessarily suffers by the serio-comic use of the supernatural element, but this is employed only as a mean? to situations which otherwise would have been impossible, and is fully justified by the excellence, literary and constructive, of the workmanship. Properly played the piece ought to attract much attention.
-"The Nation," Volume 98"show more