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ENGLISH THEATRICAL., Issue 10446, 16 October 1897, Supplement
Our London correspondent, : writing oh August 20, says:— -'
Many Australians in London this year have inquired of me curiously why E. J. Lonnen was not to be seen atone of our leading burlesque houses, and 1 really could not answer them. The probability, however, is that he wants a "fatter" part and a lordlier salary than managers are inclined to give. Besides, the public taste in buffoons has undergone a change. Instead of broad; low comedians of the Toole, Lonnen, Williams school, we are now all for brilliant mimes and dancers of the Arthur Roberts, Seymour Hicks, and Louis Bradfield order. Mr Lonnen does not, of course, want for engagements. He is, in fact, just about to " star " in the provinces in .'■ Toto and Tata' with Marie Montrose.
Miss Olgo Nethersble is i>ho intending to "star" in the provinces with- her own company, including Ernest Leicester, the elderly jeune premier who supported Hilda Spong at the Princess's. Mis 3 Nethersole, like Janet Achurch and the late Miss Lingard, has never " caught on " in London as a leading lady, but boo is a great favorite in Manchester and many northern cities. A strong company, including Louis Bradfield, Leedham Bautock, Juliette Nesville, and Florence Lloyd, are playing ■'.' In Town' for a short season at the Garrick Theatre prior to touring in America with that popular success. Mr. Bradfield's Captain Coddington (never before Seen in London) is universally pronounced a first-class imitation of the one, the only, and the unapproachable Arthur. ...--■
Mr -R. G. Knowles has apparently cut adrift from the syndicate halls, which are now all-powerful in London, and on Monday "bobbed up serenely" for" a long engagement at the Empire. The cinematograph at this house now shows the Jubilee procession in its entirety, a little matter of 22,000 exposures. Some of the colonial Premiers—notably those faoing the horses—come out beautifully. " Little Justin Junior," as his friends call Justin Huntly M'Carthy, has rewritten «The Duke's Motto' for George Alexander, who hopes to soore in romantic part made famous by Charles Feohter. I was a child when I first saw the latter, as the adventurous Ligardere, but his cry "Blanche 1 (pronounced Blonohe) Blanche! lam he-ar !I am he,-ar 1" still lingers in an odd corner of the memory,. though I could not for the life of me. say what it was all about.
One can scarcely imagine that curious olla podrida ' The Christian ' making a good play. Hall Caine has nevertheless manufactured a five-act drama therefrom, and Willard means to produce it presently in the States.
Even worse lhan the actor or actress who lags superfluous on the stage is the ojd favorite who insists on returning thereto after long years of retirement. Never shall I forget seeing Helen Fauoit play Rosalind some years ago for a special benefit at Manchester. One had heard of her as the most perfect Rosalind of her time. Perhaps she may have been, but what we saw was a mincing, unattractive, elderly lady with a painfully affected manner. The house tried to applaud, bub involuntarily shuddered. Lets us hope no such fate will overtake the versatile veteran John Coleman, who, rendered confident by his managerial triumphs with the ' Duchess of Coolgardie,' has announced hiß intention of getting on the boards again. A representative who has had a chat with Mr Coleman found him as full of life and spirits as a boy, and he talked about his old triumphs as a tragedian—he played Othello to Macready's lago when he was only a lad of nineteen— with enough i fire to suggest an early repetition of them with scarcely less vigor than in the old strolling days at Bath and Bristol. Chief among the productions with which Mr-Coleman will associate himself will be an elaborate representation of ' Perioles, Prince of Tyre,' for which designs, etc., are being prepared. This romance of the old poet Gower, whom Shakespeare introduces into the play, will undoubtedly lend itself to picturesque treatment at the hands of the scenic artist, and those who remember Mr Coleman's production of * Henry V.' at the Queen's Theatre, in whioh he played the hero of Agfncourt to the Henry IV. of his old friend Phelp9, will look forward to the ievival of ' Pericles' with pleasurable expectations. Beside this, however, Mr Coleman has three plays of his own ready for production when he again becomes a London actor-manager. Another play which will .most assuredly be put upon the stage by Mr Coleman is ' Griffith Gaunt,' an adaptation from Charles Reade's novpl, in which he collaborated with the novelist. " I have always thought it," said Mr Coleman, " to be the best novel my friend Reade ever wrote, and Swinburne has described it as the finest thing in English fiction. Tome the play is almost equally great, yet it has never been acted. Strangely enough, I had arranged w,ith Reade for the production of it, acting the leading part, just before he went to Paris, but, to my great grief, Reade came home to die, and on his death the production was abandoned." " Why has it never .been taken up by any other managers ?" " Well, you see, it is largely a woman's play—a story of women's jealousies, vanities," and ambitions. But I shall do it myself directly." Mr Coleman recalled the fact that all the London managers rejected:' It's Never Too Late to Mend,' yet it was an immense success. " I am," he added, " equally confident about «Griffith Gaunt.'" I
«Secret Service,' as played by Terriss and Co. at the Adelphi, is a dismal failure artistically, and the new play by Haddon Chambers and Comyns Carr has been put into rehearsal. The scenery—most of which is of a heavy, picturesque kind—is well forward, and two sets especially will make you open your eyes—namely, the Duchess" of Richmond's ball, a few hours before the bittle of Waterloo, and the field of Waterloo a few hours after that eventful engagement. The most interesting of the autumn productions in London will be the real Chinese play yclept «The First Born,' which Messrs BriekweU and Edwards are bringing out at theGarrick. This is (say tfiose who have seen the piece in San Francisco) the most original performance London audiences have ever assisted at. It is unlike anything else, and it is impossible to compare it with anything that has gone before, for there is no standard of comparison. 'The First Born' reveals a phase of a Chinese colony in a foreign country which has nob been recognised heretofore by literature or by the drama. This element of originality arises not from any new business \ nor from any unutual situation, nor from any stage effect strange to our. eyes. On tne contrary, the story is. simplicity itself, and
the telling is simpler thani the atbry. Briefly the tale is this -Man Lb YekYVrioh Chinese merchant living in San Francisco's Chinese quarter, Chinatown,;* tiring of his wife, Looey Taiug, sells her into slavery, and steals in her place Chan Lee, the wife of Chan Wang. Chan Wang, thuß deserted, is hying out his life alone, devoting himself to his only and first-born child, hisjreloved boy Chan Toy. The stolen wifey has been secreted in 0.-ogoh by Alan "Lq. Yek, but returns to San Franciaco .with him a number of times; and,.Jnally, on one tL V B,t l»- 6h ? B Me:her-,son, Chan nK \ e • dlstra °ted father searches Chinatown m vain for his child, and M.W« £ t^ 1 ??* the former wife of Man Lo Yek, that this boy has been stolen by his mother, and that she and the child are hiding in a certain house. In an aeonv of rage Chan Wang brushes aside his companions and rushes, knife in hand, to the rescue of his boy. In the struggle which ensues the child is in some way r killed, and the father appears in a moment-with the lifeless body. Then over the little- corpse he swears to avenge.the death; The second and. last act tells the story of Chan Wang's vengeance. Looey Tsing at her window tells Chan Wang of her love for him, and begs him to buy her and take, her biok to China, where Bhe may live again ; among the flowers she loved so well. He promises at least to send her, and, if he lives, to accompany her. Unconsciously' perhaps, she arouses in him, even more fiercely than ever, the sleeping fires of his hatred for Man Lo Yek, and as the latter is seen closing his shop for the night he motions Looey Tsing from her window, and, transforming himself into a " hatchet-man," with a cleaver he kills Man Lo Yek, drags his body into an alley, and resumes the impassive smoking of his pipe, which has not even had time to become extinguished. That is the play. The motive of the tragedy is not the abduction of the wife, as it would be in an English play. It is the death of the son. Mr Powers, the author, has, says my authority, discovered a new field teeming with dramatic possibilitie* which have escaped the perceptions of dramatists for many years. His little play is classic, not only beoause it is original of its kind and a pioneer in a new school of dramatic construction, but also for its intrinsic merit.
Miss Florence Esdaile, the Australian serio-comique, has proved a distinct success at the Tivoli Music Hall, and been engaged both there and at the Pavilion for three months certain. At Christmas she will go to Bradford to play principal boy in the pantomime at the Theatre Royal. Miss Esdaile'a success, achieved in something under a month, shows, as I have so often maintained, that any artist with decent wares to dispose of need never fear getting an engagement in London._
ENGLISH THEATRICAL., Issue 10446, 16 October 1897, Supplement
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