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THE BLAND HOLT SEASON. "SPORTING LIFE."

Melodrama at most times makes heavy demands upon, one's credulity, but it also, especially in modern, days, when stage mechanism, has made possible the representation of events in a fashion undreamt of not so very many years ago, makes huge demands upon the ingenuity as well as the purse of the producer. Mr. Bland Holt, the Augustus Harris of the Antipodes, happily combines both these essentials. It is not in him to do his work in a slovenly way. Whatever he gives is of the best, and Mr. Holt's best is something worth going a long way to see — that is, to those who like what is termed "popular" drama. Even those \vho prefer their drama on less conventional lines can generally find something to interest them in the ingenious mechanisms and splendid spectacles to which Mr. Holt treats his patrons. Hence it is that he always commands a. full house, such, as gathered within the Opera House last night to receive the genial actormanager back to Wellington after an absence of over a year and a half. The reception of both, piece and company was jhearty. - "Sporting Life," which was the bill for the evening, i* described as .an up - to - date Bohemian drama. It fits the description % ta a nicsty It takes four acts apd seventeen scenes to mature, and imagination has been given full play in illustrating how a young lord went the pace, and wa3 broken, but came up smiling at the end in spite of the machinations of calculating villains. The play opens in training stables afc Newmarket, where half a dozen nagi: with their jockeys and' grooms are brought out for trial, and ' where Mr. Baker, once more the hero o* the evening, learns that he possesses a certainty for the Derby in. his horse Lady Love, and almost simultaneously woos and wins Miss Franoei Ross, his trainer's daughter. Events follow each other rapidly, and in a few short but exceedingly beautiful scenes tho haro, handicapped by racing debts and a forged bill which he takes up to save the brother of his sweetheart Irom disgrace, finds his ancestral home sold over his head, and his good name and future practically resting upon the generosity of Bland Holt, a philanthropic Jewish money - lender with i queei turn oi humour. Li Ac>" 111. we are at Earl's Courc Exhibition 1 , with its brilliant crowd of sightseers, some at the refreshment tables, others wandering where their will takes them in limited space, and in the background the giant wheel seen slowly revolving amid the blaze of coloured lights. The characters of the play are always in the foreground, and the story presently takes four of the chief of them to an apartment in the Hotel Cecil, where a finely acted scene occurs between Miss Harrie Ireland, an adventuress, and Mr. j Baker, in which the woman triesv to tempt the man but signally fails, and is finally strangled by a man whom she has duped and encouraged to forge the name of his benefactor. The last scene in an altogether sensational act represents the interior of the National Sporting Club, • where the gilded youth of the day are gathered to witness a boxing match/ The picture is quite one of tho best that Mr. Holt has given us, and the thread of th 6 story was*interrupted for a time by ap- ! plause, Two toughly fought rounds wera a preliminary to the climax of Mr. Baker's heroics, two real "pugs," the Messrs. M'Gowan, light-weight champions from the , "other side" giving a scientific display with the gloves. Then the ring wa' cleared for the big event of the evening, but Mr. Albert Norman, who was to have done battle on behalf of Al). Baker and his friends, is discovered to have been hocussed, so Mr. Baker throws off his coat and takes 'his place, M\ Holt casts aside his clothing to second him, and Mr. Baker knocks out his man in the first round, thus winning fame and hard cash. But this is not all ; Mia machinations of Mr. Arthur Stayn, the villain of the play are not exhausted. Ho has yet to prevent Lady Love from winning the Derby. The owne? must bo missing— in fact dead, to nullify the win, if win it be. So Mr. Baker is kidnapped, is saved from threatened murder by his novitiate boxer, and finally Providence, in the shape of an augry crowd wreaking vengeance on a welsher, sets him Iree in time to see his horse win the Derby, bringing for him a wife and a fortune. The audionco also sees the great race run in min-ft-ture, with a real crowd iv the fore ground, and real horses enter tho paddoc 1 . at the end. There are forty- two characters in il'j play, and they whisk ii» a*id out all i!n evening. Mrs. Holt is icen occasion nil r in one of her usual comedy sketches, played for the most part with Mr. Luarles Brown, a typical Irish policeman. Miss i FiUmauvice Gill, Mr. Coxlesse, and Mr.

Montgomery also figure more or l&ss prominently, but all concerned combine to produce satisfactory results. The piece will run until further notice.

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THE BLAND HOLT SEASON. "SPORTING LIFE." Evening Post, Volume LVIII, Issue 124, 22 November 1899

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