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THE OPERA HOUSE.

"MR BARNES OF NEW YORK-"

"Mb Barnes of New York will draw. It will fill the Opera House better than either " Jim the Penman " or "The Ironmaster." People will go and see it because they have read the book, because the acting (when the actors get a chance) is good, because it is well staged. The pit will go to see the sensations, the stalls the scenery. It is very difficult to know what to say. The plob is, as everyone knows who has read the book, a magnificent one. Never was there a better chance for a play bristling with sensations. And the play is full of situations, literally crammed with startling tableaux. There is a splendid field for staging too, and it may be said before going further that the staging and scenery of Mr St. Maur's production are really superb. Mr Nevill Thornton most certainly deserves a very large meed of praise for his truly artistic scenic effects. What on earth, then, you ask, is wanting ? The plot of the play is good, the acting good, the scenery and staging splendid. What, then, is wanting ? The answer comes in one word—"Dialogue. " To say that the dialogue is weak and washy tells the whole story. The unfortunate actors and actresses have no chance to show the histrionic power which plays like "The Ironmaster" and "Jim the Penman" showed them to possess. Were it not for the excellence of the majority of the cast and the good staging, "Mr Barnes of New York" would not run a couple of nights. Luckily, Mr St. Maur and Miss Seymour are acting, and are most ably supported by a really honosb, hard-working cast. This being so, the piece is a success, and will draw for a week or so. Had the dialogue been one quarter as good as those who had to declaim it, the play would have created a furore, and might have run a month, at least, even in Auckland. But the dialogue almost cripples the players.- There is no nobility of language in the words they speak. There is not a single sentence in the play beautiful in itself without the acting. Often and often we kear an actor or actrees ruin a magnificent passage, but here we have halt and lame passages doing their level best to ruin actors and actresses alike. It is very comfortable, however, to get away from this complaining-, and to be able honestly to declare that it has not succeeded. Despite the goodness of the plot and the scenery,it would be impossible to call " Barnes" a good play, but one can say with gratefulness that the Sb. Maur Company come as near making: it one as is possible. The dramatist's name has not been mentioned on the programme. It is just as well. To turn from the play-wrifcer jto the unfortunate victims of his incapacity is as pleasant a change as taking one's eyes from a sandy waste of dryness to a summer garden. Not only do they re-build what he has cast down, but out of his very ruins make a really very interesting play. No end of pains, and certainly no expense has been spared to make it —what it remains through everything — a striking drama. Everyone knowe the plot. It was given in yesterday's issuo, and most people have read the book. Ib is therefore quite unnecessary to recapitulate it. Mr St. Maur plays Count Danella, and Miss Seymour Marina. Both are wonderfully good. Mr St. Maur' as the Italian is in fact most remarkable. To anyone who has visited Italy or met any of the educated Italians his impersonation is perfectly extraordinary. He has caught and remembered every little gesture, the very intonations of voice, nay somehow the very expression of the eyes of the Italian noble. He never for one moment forgets himself, and never overdoes or underdoes the part. One never the whole play through realises that he is an Englishman acting a part. He ie a sly, crafty, vengeful Corsican-Italian. His acting in the last act, where he is telling Enid the story of a vendetta, and watching the effect on Marina the whole time, fa superb—his facial expression horribly suggestive. When he ia hypocritically begging the "good old hater" Tomasso not to kill Marina's husband and her brother's murderer, as he so cunningly puts it, then again he becomes devilish, and one forgets that one is safe inside a colonial theatre, and feela more comfortable when he has gone out once more safe. Had he but had powerful words, St. Maur would have lived for years as the Count Danella. As it is, he is well worth seeing. As a clever delineation of a certain stamp of Italian alone, be is worth studying. As Mai'ina Miss Seymour has most of the "fat" of the piece. She makes the most she can of it. Her playing is at times remarkable. The tableau where she stands in front of the curtain, love having conquered revenge, and tries to protect her husband, is as fine a situation as the heart of anyone could desire. Miss Seymour acted as only she can, right through, and made a very presentable silk purse of a very uncouth sow's ear, despite what has been said as to the impossibility of that ieat. Mr Gerald, as Mr Barnes, was natural and easy. He played his part well, and with humour, bub he two was heavily handicapped by his lines, which were of the feeblest. Mr Duff made a very excellent Lieutenant Anstruther. He probably suffered the least at the hand of t'je dramatist, with the exception of Miss Frfily Mayo as Maud Chartris, of whom more anon. His best acting was in the duel scene, where of course, he the brother officer who caused all the trouble. Hβ is, however, nob only good there, bub all through, though he might be jusb a trifle more demonstrative in the love scenes perhaps. Miss Kennedy has nob much *'fab" as Enid, bub what little she has fizzles finely. Thislady impresses a greatamount of. go into any character she takes up. She makes Enid "no end of a jolly girl," as Barnes would cay, and livens the play up considerably. She looks remarkably well, especially in the last aob, in her short Italian dress. Miss EUy Mayo has a part; which suits her, She fairly revels ia the character of the mischievous, candy-loving Maud. She kept the audience in roars of laughter whenevershe was on the stage, and altogether deserved more praise than we have the space to give her. She scored a distinct triumph. Mr Kennedy, as Ruggles, made a good American, as he always does. The part allotted to Miss Smithson did not require much acting, but she infused a good deal of life in.to it, and appeared to adAll the other characters were well Altogether " Barnes of New York " will draw— voila tout.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS18900520.2.25

Bibliographic details

THE OPERA HOUSE., Auckland Star, Volume XXI, Issue 118, 20 May 1890

Word Count
1,163

THE OPERA HOUSE. Auckland Star, Volume XXI, Issue 118, 20 May 1890

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