Page images
PDF
EPUB

taste, and arranged with classical elegance and precision. It may be regretted by some that the contriver of this ingenious ballet did not, according to the tale, attribute the success and triumph of Cinderella to the agency of the fairy world, instead of resorting to niythological aid; but the appearance of Venus, and her train of Loves and Graces in the island of Cytherea is so striking, the dances and

the grouping so fanciful and picturesque, the machinery so magnificent, and their connection with the story so ingeniously interwoven, that we should be sorry if the piece had been conducted upon any other principle, especially as the allegorical effect of the representation is so much improved by this plan.--In short this ballet is calculated to please all ranks; for, with the advantage of a popular fiction, its decorations and accompaniments have scarcely ever been exceeded even on the stage of the Opera House. The author of this successful performance is said to be a young Oxonian, but his name has not yet transpired; the songs are much superior to the doggrel which usually disgrace our operatic efforts. The only blemish in the representation was the song sung by Grimaldi, and written, according to the books, by a friend of his, which, though not without a certain degree of merit, was of too base a metal to mix with a piece of such sterling value.

The performers, particularly Mr. Byrne, to whose taste and skill, no doubt, the ballet part of the performance is considerably indebted; his most astonishing boy, Oscar; Mrs. Mountain; and Miss De Camp, the Cinderella; exerted them selves with all imaginable effect. The mechanism reflects infinite credit on the inventor, Mr. Johnston.

T-GARDEN.

Dec. 13.---The English Fleet in 1342---a comic opera by Mr. T. Dibdin : the music entirely by Mr. Braham. The portion of history upon which Mr. Dibdin has founded the opera, is not only very interesting in itself, but it affords, without any violation of consistency, an opportunity for those patriotic sentiments and allusions which an English audience are always so fond of applauding, and which, in the present circumstances of the country, are so peculiarly applicable.

When the Count of Mountfort, in the course of his attempts to obtain possession of the Duchy of Britanny, in opposition to Charles of Blois, nephew to Philip king of France, was imprisoned in Paris, an event which seemed to put an end to his pretentions, his affairs were immediately retrieved by an unexpected incident, which inspired new life and vigour into his party. Jane of Flanders, countess of Mountfort, the most extraordinary woman of the age, was rouzed, by the captivity of her husband, from those domestic cares to which she had hitherto limited her genius; and she courageously undertook to support the falling fortunes of her family. No sooner did she receive the fatal intelligence, than she assembled the inhabitants of Rennes, where she then resided ; and, carrying her infant son in her arms, depicted to them the calamity of their sovereign. She recommended to their care the illustrious orphan, the sole male remaining of their ancient princes, who had governed them with such indulgence and lenity, and to whom they ever professed the most zealous attachment. She declared herself willing to run all hazards with them in so just a cause ; discovered the resources which still remained in the alliance of England; and entreated them to make one effort against an usurper, who, being imposed on them by the arms of France, would, in return, make a sacrifice to his protector of the ancient liberties of Britanny. The audience, moved by the affecting appearance, and inspirited by the noble conduct of the princess, vowed to live and die with her in defending the rights of her family : all the other fortresses of Britanny embraced the same resolution : the countess went from place to place, encouraging the garrisons, providing them with every thing necessary for subsistence, and concerting the proper plans of defence; and after she had put the whole province in a good posture, she shut herself up in Hennebonne, where she waited with impatience the arrival of those succours which Edward had promised her. Charles of Blois ima mediately sate down before the place, with a great army, composed of French, Spaniards, Genoese, and some Bretons. The countess, after a most vigorous de fence, and after performing prodigies of valour, apprehended that a general assault, which was every hour expected, would overpower the garrison, diminished in bumbers, and extremely weakened with watching and fatigue. It became necessary to treat of a capitulation; and the bishop of Leon was already engaged for that purpose, in a conference with Charles of Blois; when the countess, who had mounted to a high tower, and was looking towards the sea with great impatience, descried some sails at a distance. She immediately exclaimed: Behold the succours ! the English succours ; no capitulation. The feet, which had been long detained by contrary winds, entered the harbour, and having inspired fresh courage into the garrison, immediately sallied forth, beat the besiegers from all their posts, and obliged them to decamp. Of these incidents, as related by Humo, Mr Dibdin has composed the serious action of the opera ; the comic characters and situations are of course of his own formatiq; but he has connected them with the inain plot with great address, and has so judiciously balanced the pathetic and humorous scenes, that the effect of the whole is very striking, and such as to afford the audience the highest satisfaction.

Some of the music is delightful, particularly the trio between Braham, Storace, and Mrs. Atkins, in the first act; the air of Love and Glory, by Braham; the duo between him and Incledon, All's well ; and the sort of French catechism, in the last act, in which Storace so charmingly displays her peculiar nauveté as a comic actress. We were not much pleased with Munden's songs; but the chorusses were in general grand and impressive. The managers have been exa tremely liberal in the decorations and scenery. Various other novelties will be noticed in our next.

[ocr errors]

PROVINCIAL DRAMA, &c.

Theatre WOLVERHAMPTON.-This theatre opened on the 23rd of December, with the “ Poor Gentleman” and the “ Farmer," for the benefit of the national fund at Lloyd's ; but, the night being extremely unfavourable, the inhabitants had not a due opportunity of evincing their patriotism. Our manager (Mr. Hoy) was the first who set an example of this kind, and has given the receipts of the first night in every town to the same excellent institution; an institu“ tion, which, when the present race of men are buried with their contentions, will temain the distinguishing feature of the age which gave it birth, and shall leng

1-VOL. Xvit

be quoted, as an example from the history of man, to scare the ambition of tyrants, and animate the defence of nations. Since our last season, the venerable Shuter and our old comedian Fox have inade their final exit from this sublunary scene. They were both, as iny former communications can testify, comedians of no common powers, and have long contributed their aid to lighten our cares, and excite our pleasurable aftections.

- A las ! where now's the droll,
Whose ev'ry look and gesture was a joke
To clapping theatres and shouting crowds;
And made e'en thick-lipp'd musing melancholy
To gather up her features in a smile
Before she was aware; ah, sullen now,

And dumb as the green turf that covers him!” We have this season a very agreeable addition to our company, in Mrs. Barnard, (formerly Miss Mills) Mr. Hatton, and Mr. Webber. Mrs. Barnard, to å very excellent figure, unites a discriminating mind, that infuses into the characters she represents that effect of light and shade which is the soul of acting. Mr. Hatton is a very able successor in Mr. Fox's linc; there is much rich acting in his Scrub, which may be seen with pleasure after the iniinitable Quick. Mr. Webber succeeds Mr. Shuter, and has evinced much ability in the characters he has hitherto sustained. We were glad to hail our old favourite, Archer, after his metropolitan flourish. Mesdames, Dawson, Gibbon, Edwards, and Chambers, continue favourites in their respective lines. Mrs. Gibbon displays much graceful acting in pantomime, in which she deservedly takes the lead. Mrs. Dawson is a very interesting figure in genteel comedy, and if she excites less admiration than others, she commands more esteem. Mr. Dawson's fort is eccentricity of character, in which he cannot often indulge: his Village Laxoyer is a choice morceau which seldom coines to our share, Mr. Gibbon is entitled to much praise for the industry with which he studies his parts; his acting is always wellmeant, and frequently forcible and empassioned. Mr. Young has youth in his favour, and that is all which we see at present. He either wants power or confidence; if it be the latter, he is on a good road for preferment; if the former, it is not in our power to assist him.

Civis. Theatre Boston, America. - I have been a constant reader of your valuable publication, and I will endeavour to compensate for the pleasure it has afforded me, by giving you an account of our theatricals. This town contains but about twenty-seven thousand inhabitants, yet the theatre is always well supported when the company is good.

Before I enter into a description of the theatre, or a criticism of the performers, it will be necessary to state to you that I have seen the theatres of London, Dublin, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Leeds, and have witnessed the talents of all your principal perforiners. The theatre in this town is remarkably elegant; the scenery is very good. The house will hold about two kundred and forty pounds sterling, at the following prices: first and second rows of boxe, four shillings and sixpence; pit and third row of boxes, tworshillings and threepence; gallery, thirteen-pence halfpenny. The inanagement of the theatre is very well conducted by Mr. C. S. Powell. I will now enumerate

the principal performers; they are all emigrants from “ the snug bit of land in the ocean,” Mr. Bernard is recently engaged, and is a general favourite in comedy; he plays Gregory Gubbins, Sharp, Abednego, Lazarillo, and Lord Ogleby, in excellent style; his Puff is not so good. Mr. Barret (from Norwich) is our chief tragedian ; his Osmond, Rolla, Gondibert, Benyowsky, and Abetekino, are very good; he is also considerably admired in Hamlet, Old Norval, Benedict, and Harry Herbert. Mr. Jones arrived from England about three years ago; he is since much improved; he plays Glenalvon very well, and genesally sustains the genteel characters in comedy very respectably. Mr. Wilson (said to be brother to Mrs. Jordan) is a tolerable comic performer ; his Mungo is excellent; Mr. Wilmot plays stupid servants very well; Mr. Darley is much admired as a singer; Mr. Dickenson supports the characters of old men very well, particularly Sir Robert Bramble, in the Poor Gentleman, which had a run of ten nights here last season. Mr. Bignall is a low comedian of some merit. Mr. Taylor would be a respectable actor in any theatre, were it not for his frequent connexion with the bottle; he was formerly. the best Octavian and Ranger we have had. Mr. and Mrs. Whitlock are not with us this season; their son, a lad about sixteen years of age, made his debût this season in Norunl; his performance proved him a legitimate scion from the Kemble stock. Of the actresses, Mrs. Jones (the American Jordan,) is the favourite ; she plays Beatrice, Little Pickle, the Country Girl, and other parts of the kind, extremely well; her claim is undisputed to the characters which require an agreeable naiveté, or musical talents. Mrs. Darley is an actress of considerable merit, in the same line with Mrs. Jones. Tragic heroines are scarce with us. Mrs. Powell (wife to the manager, and late Miss Harrison,) takes the principal parts; her figure is good, and her action is not much amiss, but her playing affords but little pleasure to those who have seen your great tragic actresses in London, or Our Whitlock or Merry. Mrs. Barrett would rank considerably high as an actress in tragedy, were it not for her very unpleasant voice; her intonation is extremely unpleasant: she always “ mouths it.” Mrs. Graupner is an inferior actress, with some musical powers. Mrs. Bernard is a good representative of Kitty Pry. Mrs. Bignell is an inferior actress in the same line, Mrs. Baker is a respectable Old Woman, Your admirer,

IMPATIALIS, Theatre LEWES.-On Monday, the 5th December, an unpleasant disturbance arose at this theatre, between the barrack artificers and some military officers stationed in that town. The performance was King Richard the Third, by desire of the former gentlemen, who, to render their patronage more profitable to the managers, took their seats in the boxes, and nearly filled them ; but their right of possession being disputed by the officers, who came in at half-price, the whole house, in consequence, was thrown into an uproar, that threatened a catastroph. more serious than that which awaited the crook-backed tyrant, as the intemperance of the scene not only provoked hard words, and hard blows, but also the use of drawn swords ; by which, however, as good luck would have it, it appearert that no material wound had been inflicted, when the tumult was appeased by the arrival of a peace officer, whom the military gentlemen sent for, and charged with seven of the most active of their adversaries. They were confined in the Borough prison till the next morning, and then taken before a magistrate, who

made them find sureties for their appearance to answer the charge at the next general quarter cessions, and bound the officers over to appear and give evidence against them.

Theatre NORWICH. Our company returned from Ipswich to this place on Wednesday last, and opened with the Stranger and the Wags of Windsor. They have since played Henry the Second and Raising the Wind, John BuŲ and Of Age To-Morrow, George Barnwell and Raising the Wind. Mr. Bowles junior performs most of the leading characters; he possesses judgment, and seldom offends, but he wants fire. He is much patronized, on account of the goodness of his private character; in the above plays he acted the - Stranger,' · Henry the Second," "Tom Shuffleton,' and · George Barnwell,

Mr. Phillips, in Peregrine, in John Bull, was stiff and languid. Mr. Fitzgerald played Dennis Brulgruddery with spirit and a considerable share of humour, Mr. Holliday has comicality suited to the Norwich gallery, by whom he is generally applauded, but his Job Thornberry had none of the bold and striking features of the honest Brazier. Shakspeare's reprimand may be applied to this gentleman; “ Let those that play your clowns, speak no more than is set down for them, &c.” Mr. Mallinson is a young man of superior genius, and has good comic talents ; his Caleb Quotem is a very creditable performance. Mrs. Worthington, a lady who, a few years since, played Imogen at Drury Lane theatre, is the heroine both in tragedy and comedy; she has feeling, grace, and expression, but wants judgment, to give her performances a proper degree of light and shade; there is a sameness that tires the ear. Mrs. Walcot is excellent in her cast of the old, talkative women. Miss Birchall speaks with propriety, and pays proper attention to the business of the scene, but is so very tall, as to present the appearance of awkwardness.

Among the other performers are the names of Eastmure, Bowles senior, Brewer, Beachem, Cushing, Smith, Bennett, Mrs. Binfield, and Mrs Phillips,

January 17th. · WESTMINSTER PLAY.---The play of the Eunuch of Terence was repeated for the last time on the 13th of December, and acted in the Westminster dormitory, before a select and learned audience, among whom we noticed the Duke of York, that venerable prelate, the Archbishop of York, the learned Dr. Vincent, Sir William Dolben, &c. The female part of the audience, consisted, as usual, of the parents and relatives of the young gentlemen educated at the school. The character of Thraso, we humbly conceive, to be mistaken, as it is now performed. He should not be represented as a fribble, who wears a brilliant ring, takes snuff with the air of a petit-maitre, and wears a pink dress; who lisps affectation. The name borrowed from the Greek imports audacity. This was, undoubtedly, the character the author had in contemplation when he wrote it for the stage. Effeminate men are frequently brave, but blustering men generally 'cowards. This maxim is founded on experience. Many of our officers, covered with laurels, which they have earned in hard campaigns, indulge in the softest arts of dissipation when at home. The learned and sagacious Ben Jonson has drawn, we may venture to say, his Captain Bobadil from Thraso. Many are the characters which he has transplanted, from the writings of the ancients, into his own plays. The acting of the part of Thraso was good, according to the sense in which the character was taken. This metamorphosis has injured the play.

« PreviousContinue »