|Gilbert > Plays > Ages Ago > Penny Illustrated Paper Review
Mr. and Mrs. German Reed commenced their season, at the Gallery of Illustration, on Monday evening, with a novelty which promises to become a permanent favourite with the public. Its title is "Ages Ago," and it is described modestly in the bills merely as a musical legend, but is, in fact, a very brilliant, sparkling operetta, full of ingenious fun in the plot and dialogue, and exhibiting a good deal of grace and freshness in the music.
Mr. W. S. Gilbert, who supplies the libretto, sets down an old London Alderman and his pretty niece in a Highland castle, which, of course, has a ghost story for every chamber. The old Scotch housekeeper details all these stories to her young mistress with alarming minuteness; but the latter, who has evidently a tendency to being strong-minded, hears them without alarm, and turns them to a useful purpose. The young lady has lover, of whom the old Alderman disapproves, for vulgar pecuniary reasons, and the lovers use the ghostly legends of the castle, and its equally ghostly picture-gallery, make things pleasant.
It appeared that in successive centuries the castle had been occupied successive proprietors, all of whom had unlucky knack of first mislaying their title-deeds, and then dying and leaving the castle unoccupied, until the said title-deeds and a new proprietor turned up. The pictures of all these careless Counts and Barons hang up in the picture gallery, and immense fun is made out of bringing them down out of their frames in the costumes of their respective periods, and making them talk, and sing, and make love to each other on terms of equality. The animated pictures are personated by the lovers and their accomplices, who ultimately dance, sing, talk, and frighten the old Alderman out of his scruples, and get married, to appropriate music. The piece went off most successfully, a satisfactory proof that extravaganzas written without vulgarity can be relished by the public. The dialogue is smart as well as polished, and contains several hits on current town topics, not one of which misses fire.
The music is the composition of Mr. Clay, who, although strictly speaking an amateur, had previously produced some popular and successful vaudeville music. All his airs and concerted pieces were much applauded, and one of them was encored.
Miss Holland, who played the Alderman's pretty niece to the life, and who, although announced in the bills as a debutante, exhibited admirable self-possession and familiarity with the business of the stage, had a most cordial reception; and Mrs. German Reed was, as might have been expected, at once perfect and perfectly successful in the character of the old housekeeper who is subsequently brightened up and costumed as lady of the eighteenth century. The evening's entertainments finished with "Cox and Box," in which Mr. G. Reed and Mr. Arthur Cecil kept the house laughing until the fall of the curtain. The crowded and fashionable audience called the author and composer of "Ages Ago" to the footlights to receive a vociferous ovation.
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