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THE WARNER THEATRICAL COMPANY., Issue 8035, 11 October 1889
THE WARNER THEATRICAL COMPANY.
Mr Charles Warner, an actor whose reputation has spread throughout the Queen’s dominions, made his first before a New Zealand audience at the Princess’s Theatre last evening, and at the same time introduced to us a company that appears to be a pretty strong one all round, and capable of sustaining a heavier strain than is put upon them in ‘ Hands Across the Sea.’ It must be confessed that this play is somewhat disappointing. It rises no higher than the level of that ordinary type of melodrama of which we, in common with theatregoers in other places, have during the past year or two had so many examples. In it we have the familiar hero temporarily misrepresented and persecuted by the equally familiar villain, who for a while “spreads himself like a green bay tree,” but is ultimately confounded in his own devices, and brought to justice in nice time to allow the audience to catch the late tramcars. There are also in evidence the ever-present tempted but virtuous wife, the übiquitous person who, though he cannot have the girl for himself, vows that if she ever wants a friend he will be staunch till death, the wellknown lively young lady who vainly makes eyes at a fellow who is spoons on a third party, the necessary faithless trustee who for his own naughty purposes desires to wed his ward to a man whose villainy she perceives from the moment of their introduction, and other characters that to the builders of these popular plays are seemingly indispensable. But if ‘ Hands Across the Sea ’ is not a great play in the higher sense of the term, and commonplace in method, it is, we gladly concede, an interesting story; one that it is easy and pleasant to follow, and illustrated by a series of effective stage pictures, the majority of which are not such pure flights of fancy as are met with in some plays of the class. The tale presented by the playwright is on the whole a reasonable one; and we are sure the general verdict of the large audience that assembled last evening is that it lost nothing in itt telling by Mr Warner’s company. Mr Warner himself is a big man, gifted with a fine voice and an excellent stage presence; he has also an advantage over some noted actors who have visited these parts, in that he is not hampered with mannerisms of speech or carriage ; and as to his histrionic ability, enough was seen, even in a part that did not afford the greatest opportunity, to warrant us in saying that he is not in the least over-rated iu the Press notices that heralded his advent to the colony. In comedy passages he is irresistible—we have not since the Majeroni season seen the equal of his pathetic acting in the scene where he meets his wife on the steamer; and, whether grave or gay, he is original and delightfully free from staginess. It would, we think, be difficult to overpraise Mr Warner’s skill, and wo look forward to something specially good if it be true, as re fiorted, that he intends to give us a taste of ight comedy before the season closes. Miss Graoie Warner is also a worthy member of the company, and created a favorable impression from her first appearance as Lilian Molford. She played with ease, and occaBiODally displayed a considerable amount of dramatic force; but if we may be allowed to judge by a first impression, this young lady excels in the comedy line. Her greatest success last night was iu that part of the play where she bids goodrbye toTomßassett. Between them the actress and actor presented us with a moat amusing scene. Miss Constance Deorwyn we have had the pleasure of seeing on a previous occasion. She had not a great deal to do last night, and was not very happily cast as Madame Valerie, keeper of a gaming house in Paris. Miss Lily Olitherow is a charming young actress, and filled the part of Lucy Nettleford in a very acceptable manner. Mr Oily Peering is an old friend and welcome. The character allotted to him was that of JorephStillwood, Lilian’s guardian, a farmer who abuses his trust. It is almost unnecessary to say that the part was conscientiously played. An actor of Mr Peering’s stamp is not likely to go astray in so easy a task. Stillwood’s son Robert, the leading villain of the drama, was played by Mr Richard Stewart—not the Richard Stewart so favorably remembered by old Victorians, but by his son, who is apparently well up in his work. The only fault one could find with the jiupersonatjoi; was that it was perhaps unduly tinged with melancholy; but it would have been equally a mistake to have erred in the opposite direction, and it may be that Mr Stewart’s conception was based on a correct judgment. We certainly liked Mr Alfred Phillips’s impersonation of Tom Bassett, the rollicking young fejlow who so loyally sticks to Jack Dudley and his wife. He had a large share of the work, and got through it very well. Mr F. Stephenson gave $ forcible representation of the part of Jean De Lusaac, a young Frenchman who for his sins is transported to New Caledonia; and Mr Hambro was fairly successful as the other Parisian swell who deservedly comes to grief Count Paul. Mr J, A. Patterson sustained the part of an Australian settler, and our old acquaintance Mr J. P, West was cast a.s ft sea captain. These and the minor parts were well looked after; in fact there is not a weak point in the company. Some very pretty scenery was shown—the picture of Nettlefold Farm iu the first act and of Sydney Harbor in the last act being so good as to evoke applause; and the general mounting of the play was quite up to the mark, the only exception being in regard to the view of a steamers deck that was given In the fourth act. This was not particularly _ well arranged, two prominent defects being that the shrouds were set up at an impossible angle, and the bulwarks iu the waist were no higher than a man’s belt; but somehow these marine pictures are nearly always faulty, and Mr Warner's ship is not the worst we have seen—indeed the defects might well have been overlooked but that they were specially singular by comparison with the completeness of the general arrangements, A competent orchestra ia engaged, The piece wiff be repealed this evening.
THE WARNER THEATRICAL COMPANY., Issue 8035, 11 October 1889
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