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Modern Theatre in Context: A Critical Timeline

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B.K. Sandwell is the only Montreal critic to anticipate the negative New York critical response to Augustus Thomas's comedy The Embassy Ball, which had been warmly received by audiences at His Majesty's Theatre. In his February 6 Montreal Herald column, Sandwell calls The Embassy Ball "positively, flagrantly and persistently bad." "As played last night, it has not a single character with a vestige of human interest…And it tells a puerile story with an amount of effort and amateurish explanatory dialogue that should give hope to every scribbler of unread and unacted comedies that between him and Augustus Thomas the only gulf fixed is one of reputation and not of ability."

In a March 10 column, after having been "accused in certain quarters of being inspired by prejudice and preconceived hostility," Sandwell cites extensively from the negative New York Sun and Evening Post reviews of The Embassy Ball in order to "vindicate the right of the critic, even in Montreal, to apply other standards than those of the box-office receipts and the applause from the gallery when judging a new work presented on the stage; and to suggest that the application of artistic standards, even when the resultant verdict differs from that of the uncritical public, does not necessarily imply ignorance, prejudice, hostility or even conceit."