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SHORE ACRES

a play in three acts by James A. Herne
First performed in 1892

This analysis of Shore Acres was originally published in The British and American Drama of Today. Barrett H. Clark. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915. pp. 231-2.

This play was, according to all accounts, an intensely "human," amusing, and, in places, exciting drama. The following quotations are illuminating; the first is from Montrose J. Moses's The American Dramatist, the second from a letter by Henry George:

"Even in Shore Acres, during the scene in which Uncle Nat struggles with Martin in his effort to light the signal lamp, the sensational is very much in evidence; but the unerring art of Mr. Herne saved him from the accusation of intense, glaring melodrama. He understood thoroughly the balance between tension and quietude, and there is no bit of stage writing more natural, more cheerful, and more real than the act which succeeded this violent one in Shore Acres, Uncle Nat preparing the Christmas stockings. Those who are fortunate enough to recollect the wonderful naturalness of Mr. Herne's acting will always point to the final curtain of this play, where Uncle Nat, left alone on the stage, by the very flexibility of his facial expression, depicted the full beauty of his character, as he closed up the room for the night, put out the lamps, and lighted only by the glow from the fire in the stove, slowly left the room as the cuckoo clock struck twelve. Such work, of which Mr. Herne as an actor was capable, is to a certain extent the realization of Maeterlinck's idea of static drama."

"I cannot too much congratulate you upon your success. You have done what you sought to do -- made a play pure and noble that people will come to hear. You have taken the strength of realism and added to it the strength that comes from the wider truth that realism fails to see; and in the simple portrayal of homely life, touched a universal chord.... Who, save you, can bring out the character you have created -- a character which to others, as to me, must have recalled the tender memory of some sweet saint of God?"

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