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'NECK FOR NECK.', Issue 7947, 1 July 1889
' NECK FOR NECK.'
One of the most trashy plays that wo have seen put on a Dunedin stage was that with which Mr Vivian favored his patrons on Saturday evening. It ia entitled • Neck for Neck,' and is said to be the product of Mr Vivian's own brain. This may or may not be so, but in any case the production is not one the parentage of which any writer should be particularly proud to claim. The so-called plot is not worth describing, it being perhaps more than sufficient to desciibe the principal characters that are pressed into the service,. It is difficult to say where tho scene is laid. All of the characters but one are apparently English, and therefore one would imagine that the action takes place in England ; but then tho presence of a Yankee farmer of very pronounced type loads one to think that the audience are to delude themselves with the idea that they are spending the evening in America. Mr Vivian himself as Simon Punkin, son of this palpable American settler, turns out singularly enough to be the identical low-bred Cockney that we saw him represent in his previous pieces. He has the same tricks of facial expression, the same Btamp of "comic" song, and the same objectionable habit of playing to the audience and brimming over himself with the conscious cleverness of his " own jokes." Cannot Mr Vivian vary himself at all; or is he really able to give us nothing but characters of the one kind ? Clever they are to a certain extent, no doubt; but one is apt to tire of seeing practically the same individual bobbing up and taking part in every play in the present company's large repertory. The hero of the present drama is Walter Willmartb, an able-bodied young banker's clerk, who is wrongfully accused of a murder; is hung—with repulsive details of the hanging business—but cut down in time to save his life; thenceforth wanders about town and country and in and put of private houses in a partially-clad condition and brandishing a pistol, a bundle of papers, and a piece of rope; until at last his much aspersed character is cleared. We were sorry to see so conscientious and able an actor l as Mr Carey reduced to such a pass as to bo required to fill such a part as this. Miss Vivian does very good I work as Walter's betrothed, Carrie FrieI land, and, if we mistake not, also takes the subordinate part of a mysterious witch to whom house doors and room doors alike are as nothing ; she has the power of entering any drawing room or boudoir at her free will, and without asking any questions. Another lady gifted with this same privilege is Simon Punkin's " gal"; but in her case even prison doors fly open, and she is allowed every facility to cut down a hanging man and snpposititiously bear him away in her arms—notwithstanding that to all appearances he outweighs heraboutthree times. The particular villain in this play, one of the gentlemanly kind, is of course played by Mr Jordan, who has a special talent for such parts. Mr Beresford, as the reprobate Jim Johnson, has a considerable amount of prominence given to him ; but it must be said that there is a great deal too much mad 9of tho drunken business. Our Yankee friend is well pourtrayed by Mr Griffiths, who makes as many points as he can out of the weak dialogue put into his mouth, and the remaining characters are fairly filled. ' Neck and Neck' is announced to be played for two more nights, and if it draws good houses the management will have ground for self-congratulation.
'NECK FOR NECK.', Issue 7947, 1 July 1889
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