Trelawny of the Wells
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Size: 7.00" wide x 10.00" long x 0.56" tall
Arthur Wing Pinero, a former actor, remained a shrewd judge of theatrical taste. After a period of writing comedies and farces (Dandy Dick, in 1887, among the best), in the 1890s Pinero fastened on London's newly aroused interest in social-problem plays. But, instead of following the difficult example of Ibsen whose plays were just then beginning to be produced in English translations, Pinero turned to the French playwrights of an earlier generation. The demimondaine of Guillaume Augier and Alexandre Dumas became, in plays like The Second Mrs. Tanqueray (1893), the "woman with a past." The inevitable (and inevitably effective) theatrical business of recognition and confession led to acts of renunciation in Mrs. Tanqueray's case, suicide, which permitted characters and audiences to escape the moral problems that had been posed for them. Pinero's one lasting achievement is not a problem play at all, but the affectionate homage of a theater man to an earlier era of the London stage. Trelawney of the "Wells" (1898) has had successful modern productions at London's National Theatre and New York's Lincoln Center.