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THE WARNER THEATRICAL COMPANY., Issue 8048, 26 October 1889
THE WARNER THEATRICAL COMPANY.
During the course of the too brief season of this company in Dunedin Mr Warner has given us many changes of style. In ' Dora,'' Captain Swift,' and 'The Lady of Lyons' we were permitted to enjoy a taste of what is oomnionly known as legitimate drama; 'Drink' gave the opportunity of a special study in the ultra-emotional branch of the actor's art; ' The Banister' w.is pure farce, after tho model of those pieces in which Charles JYhth'/ws used to shine ; ' Hands Anross tho Kea' represented tho now and ' It's "Cover Too Late to Manrt' tho. older school of melodrama; and to wind up we wi-re treated to y'niikospL'arian tiAfiedy. AreivTh htagc of this memorable wasou we have oxpressed our appreciation of Mr Warner's acting, and may take the present opportunity of tminmarising those opinions by saying Ihat throughout the wide range of characters that have been net down for representation this great actor's representations have been uniformly acceptable. His opportunity in some playß was greater than in othera; and this is the only limit that we can set to his success, save and_ except in regard to his Hamlet, concerning which there are sure to be differences of opinion—as, indeed, would be the case were Shakespeare himself to rise from his grave, and, unbeknown to the nineteenth century Btudents, school the actor to the author's design. We do not wish to bo miHunderßtood as suggesting that there was anything about Mr Warner's impersonation of Hamlet that in our judgment is unanswerably wrong —as a matter of fact we are heart aud soul with those who thoroughly enjoyed the performance but Shakespeare has been so closely and critically studied, even in the minutest detail, by hosts of more or less competent students, that it seems hopeless to look for anything like a general agreement as to how Hamlet should be played. The world has had succeeding generations of great actors, who each in turn has aspired to be the model Hamlet, and from each fresh interpreter we have learned something and had presented some variation in the reading. This being so, there being differences of opinion among the professional and accepted expounders of tho part, it is but natural that diverse notions of what is correct and what is inharmonious or positively incorrect should be found among the thousands of disciples of these respective leaders. Wo may take it, thcD, that there being no unalterable standard, each theatregoer constituting himself an independent critic, it is inevitable that some will be found to take objection to every innova tion as unwarranted, and no actor can hope to find his particular study, be it ever so careful, universally accepted. If these premises are correct, Mr Warner may consider himself highly complimented by last night's audience. Critics were thero in force, and among them many who, if we know them aright, would not willingly budge an inch from their preconceived ideals, but Mr Warner's acting, though decidedly original in parts, or at any rate having the semblanoe of originality to us, gradually won acceptance from all parts of the house; and when the curtain fell on the first act the prolonged applause testified to a general agreement that the latest Hamlet was hhiled as a not unworthy suoocbhov to Montgomery, Fairclough, Talbot, Dampier, and others that New Zealanders have previously had the privilege of seeing in the part. Mr Warner's Hamlet is throughout a living man, of polite manners and gracious disposition, cursed only with irresolution in the performance of his recognised duty. To quote Mr Warner's own words, as addressed to one of our staff in a recent interview ;_" He regards Hamlet as a man who thought aloud, and who was a philosopher, and who was naturally quite subdued In his manner. Ho does not think that Hamlet could have spoken rudely, owing to his innate, kindly disposition; and eays that the passages to Polonios, where he is seemingly rude, should he rendered as asides, and arc. riot to be intentionally addressed in discourteous terms to tho father of tho woman whom Hamlet loves." To consider Mr Warner's aoting in detail would be a task beyond our means, but wo must Bay that his soliloquies were delivered with a quiet force suggesting the intensest though suppressed emotion; that the performance waß all through in accord with common eenso, and delightfully real and possible though unconventional, and one that will long be remembered as the study of a profound ooMolar. At the end of each ant Mr V/amor waß recalled, and onoe or twloe ho was the recipient of bouquets of floweis thrown at his feet. Competent assistance was afforded him by Miss Warner's unaffected demeanor and speech iu the part of Ophelia, in which this rising actress scored an unequivocal success; and Miss Deorwyn was also seen to advantage as the Queen, being especially powerful ifl the Closgt scene with Hamlet. $t in said that Mr btepbenson followed the authority of the litest method in London in chanting the Ghost's speech. "We are not prepared to say that this manner of delivery is any more unnatural than the commoner ono of assuming a sepulchral tone as if to imply that the Ghost had oaugbt a cold on his oh est. Mr Kenton was rather overweighted in the part of Horatio, bat we liked Mr Stewart's playing as Laertes; and Mr Deering gave an acceptable rendering of the parts of Polonius and the Gravedigger. Mr West was oast as the Kmg, Mr Puttman as Rosencrantz, Mr Hambro as Guildenstern, and these and tho rest of the company went through their business in a capablo manner. The scenery was distinctly dowdy j but, being a last night, this may bo oxcused, At the conclusion of the play Mr Warner oame to tho front, and said he could only reiterate what he had spoken on the previous evening—his heart was too full to thank his audience as he could wißh. Their reception of 'Captain Swift' and 'Hamlet' had, indeed, cheered him beyond expression. He hoped that he would bo able to return to Dunediu to play for a longer season than ho had done at pie'aeut, and lip thought and believed that when hp did return they would welcome him back,
THE WARNER THEATRICAL COMPANY., Issue 8048, 26 October 1889
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