S. Gilbert > Plays > Creatures of Impulse
First produced at the Royal Court Theatre
The plot of Creatures of Impulse, which opened as a companion piece to Gilbert's Randall's Thumb at the Court Theatre on 2 April 1871, was adapted from a short story which had appeared in the Christmas Number of The Graphic a few months earlier entitled A Strange Old Lady. It was generally well receieved by both audience and reviewers, having an initial run of 91 performances, and was revived into the 1890s.
In both the short story and the play, a fairy disguised as a disagreeable old woman comes to stay at an inn. When the other characters try to induce her to go on her way she casts spells over them causing them to behave in ways contrary to their true characters: the shy girl kisses everyone, the coward becomes courageous, the miser generous and so on. Alberto Randegger supplied the score and conducted the augmented band. The score originally consisted of six songs, but when Gilbert published the script of the play in Original Plays, Fourth Series  three had been cut. The music was never published and is now apparently lost.
The part of Peter, a young farmer, was played by a woman (Maggie Brennan), and Edward Righton created the role of Boomblehardt, the miser forced to give guineas away. He was well received, but could not resist broadening his effects for bigger laughs, making up as a cariacture Jew. Gilbert's script did not use a Jewish dialect, and historian Jane Stedman suggests that Righton's increasingly broad portrayal and interpolations show that Gilbert had little control of Righton's portrayal of the part. She says that when the piece was revived the following year (without Randegger's music) the critics objected to his constantly interpolating phrases such as 'Oh! Wriggling Rachel', 'Oh! Slobbering Solomon', and 'Oh! Jimping Jeremiah.'
The full cast of the original production was as follows:
The play was revived at the Vaudeville Theatre in July 1874, sharing the bill with Dion Boucicault’s comedy, Old Heads and Young Hearts.
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