THE WARNER THEATRICAL COMPANY.
The change of programme at the Princess's Theatre last evening was not merely a nominal variation introducing a play of the same nature as its predecessor—it was a radical alteration, root and branch ; and if Mr Warner had heard the opinions expressed by the people as they passed out of the theatre, he *ould haVe realised that for the relief afforded by the change the bulk of his audience were truly grateful. Without further reference to comparisons, we may say that on its merits 'Dora' is one of the most charming dramas ever staged in Dunedin. It is a story of farm life in England, adapted by Charles Reade from Tennyson's poem. In the first act we see the interior of a kitchen attached to the homestead of prosperous Farmer Allan—a regular " old John Barleycorn," as the orchestra reminds us, who tills ground that has been wrought by his ancestors for " five hunder year." The time is Christmas Eve, and " the waits " aro outside singing an old-fashioned 'Noel.' Dora, the niece of the farmer, is approached by one Luke Bloomfield, a young farmer, who asks her to become his wife. She refuses, and tells the suitor, though with tears in her eyes for giving him pain, that she loves another. Enter then Farmer Allan, who unbosoms himself to Dora, and beseeches her to marry Will Allan, his son. Dora has for some time felt well-disposed towards Will, and promises tc obey the farmer's request if Will asks her. But Will refuses when ordered by his father to court Dora ; a scene ensues, during which the old man strikes his son, and on Will avowing that he is already married to Mary Morrison, the pais are ordered out. of the house. They depart amid the farmer's curses, but just before the curtain falls the strains of the ' Noel' come to the old man's ears, and ho recalls the curse, wishing the couple instead a "merry Christmas." In the second act we find Will dead; Mary among the gleaners with her child; and Dora trying to effect a reconciliation between the farmer and Mary. In her endeavor to effect this purpose she herself falls into the bad graces of the violent old follow, who orders her away. Through Luke's representations the farmer's hate for the women who "had set a trap for him" is assuaged, and the drama ends with a general reconciliation. This is a very scanty outline of the play. To appreciate it adequately our readers should go and see it for themselves, which many will doubtless do on the recommendation of last night's audience. Mr Warner himself sustained the part of Farmer Allan, and with unqualified success. His make-up with the orthodox blue frock coat, highcrowned hat, flowered vest, and gaiters was in itself a study; and he managed to so effectually disguise his voice as well as his appearance that he was to all intents and purposes a different man altogether from the Jack Dudley of the melodrama or the Arthur Maxwell of the farce with which last night's entertainment was brought to a close. Few would have recognised him but for tho fact that in stature he is as a son of Anak among the company. And his acting was something to be remembered. It was in even tho minutost point consistent with tho pourtrayal of the quarrelsome, headstrong John Bull, accustomed to having everything his own way kind and considerate whon not thwarted, but a perfect tyrant when anyone ventured to oppose his will. The scene wherein he lashes himself into a fury with Will for daring to rcfriso to marry Dora was most impressive. We shall not readily forget that dreadful curse almost at the end of the first act, and in the last scene, in which the farmer gradually discovers that he also has a master who has said " Lot not the sun go down upon your wrath," we were treated to an exhibition of the higher phases of the aotor'aart. MiasGracie Warner sustained tho part of Dora in a manner that calls for very high praise—indeed, without her assistance the chief part could not have been so successfully played ; while Miss Constance Deorwyn as Mary, Mr Seaton as Will Allan, and Mr R. Stewart as Luke Bloomfield, were well up to their duties. It was a pleasant surprise to find Mr Stewart so completely at home in his part. Wo half suspected that the character he sustained in ' Hands Across the Sea' was an uncongenial one, and are now satisfied that this was so. There was a general call after each act of 'Dora,' Mr Warner himself being accorded a particularly hearty reception on each occasion. We must not forget to mention that the scene of the cornfield in the second act was a very pretty and effective one.
Tho second piece played was • The Barrister,' a pure farce in three acts. Shortly put, the action of this very funny affair turns on the blunders caused by the accidental exchange of two bags, one belonging to a lady and tho other to a young barrister. The lady's bag contains articles the possession of which gets the barrister into trouble, apd the barrister's bag contains his papers in an important lawsuit. But this is only the beginning of the entanglements. We do not propose to reveal all the particulars, indeed we could not, for the fun is simply indescribable, and it would be much better that our readers should get the information direct from the stage. The characters are sustained by the full strength of this remarkably efficient company, with Mr Warner in the chief part, and everyone is thoroughly up to the business. Mr Warner is simply inimitable. His overy appearance is the signal for shrieks of laughter, caused as much by his acting, as by tho absurdity of the situations in which he finds himself. Ho is well supported by Miss Gracie Warner as the barrister's wife, Mr Oily Deering as an irascible army officer,
Mr Stewart as Captain Walker, Mr Hambro as an asthmatic waiter, Miss Deorwyn as the lady who gets the wrong bag, Mr Stephenson as the confidential clerk; and the other partß are played in a manner that leaves nothing to be desired. We can recommend the farce; we have a great affection for the drama which precedes it; and taken in all a better evening's amusement could not be devised from the stage. The same programme will be repeated this evening.
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THE WARNER THEATRICAL COMPANY., Evening Star, Issue 8039, 16 October 1889
THE WARNER THEATRICAL COMPANY. Evening Star, Issue 8039, 16 October 1889
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