The Chinese Puzzle
Examiner of Plays' Summary:
This play is an old-fashioned diplomatic play, on the Sardou model, plus a rather elaborate study of a Chinese diplomatist. Keeping to essentials and omitting the subordinate characters and sub-plots, the story is as follows. A secret meeting is arranged at the house of Sir Roger de la Haye, a young diplomatists, between a financier, Marketel, and the Chinese ambassador, Chi Lung, to conclude an arrangement about the Chinese navy between China and Great Britain. Chi lung was the devoted friend of Sir Roger's father and carries to the son a debt of gratitude. There is staying in the house Naomi Melsham, whose other is an adventuress: Naomi and Roger and in love. Mrs Melsham arrives and puts pressure on her daughter (who does not realize all she is doing) to take a photograph of the document recording the secret treaty and gives it to one Strum, a German spy. It is published in the papers, suspicion falls on Sir Roger and he is turned out of the service. Naomi marries him. Chi Lung, who suspected her all along, gets proof of her action and six months later is on the point of denouncing her when he realized that she is repentant and that Sir Roger's happiness would be destroyed. Therefore to put Sir Roger right with the world he himself takes on the responsibility of betraying the secret and the play ends with this magnanimity. The diplomatic, secret treaty, business is absurd, but otherwise the play is dramatic and well written. The only point for our consideration is if the character of Chi Lung would give offence in Chinese quarters. It is a story probably inspired by the late Li Hung Chang and with some real knowledge, I think, of Chinamen. Chi Lung is not always 'sympathetic' to European ideas, as when he shows a low opinion of women and in his way of speaking to them, but he is an impressive and dignified figure and acts with self-sacrificing magnanimity. I think there can be no offence. Except perhaps in one passage in which he speaks of having procured Strum's assassination, act IV, p.6. Perhaps this had better be cut out. Recommended for license. G. S. Street.
Licensed On: 24 Jun 1918
License Number: 1637
British Library Reference: LCP1918/11
British Library Classmark: Add MS 66193 R
|1 Jul 1918||Shakespeare Theatre, Liverpool||Unknown||Licensed Performance|