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Review of the Production from The Times
Monday, December 31, 1866
  
ST. JAMES’S THEATRE

The Christmas novelty at this fashionable house was not brought out till Saturday night, when Mr. W. S. Gilbert, well-known as the clever caricaturist of Fun, revealed himself for (we believe) the first time as a dramatic author, the result of his mirthful labours being a new burlesque on the book of L’Elisir d’Amore, entitled Dulcamara, or the Little Duck and the Great Quack. Never was a display of native and unrestricted drollery made to better purpose.

At the very rise of the curtain the author and his executes set in motion a current of laughter which did not cease till the end of the performance. Not satisfied with cramming into his dialogue a mass of puns, some unequivocally good, some admirably bad, and all comical in the extreme, – not content to bring into rapid succession countless songs and “breakdowns,” set to the merriest tunes, – Mr. Gilbert takes the most outrageous liberties with the plot, and brings the story to an unexpected conclusion by making all the personages discover that they are closely related to each, a mysterious Pierrot, who attends on Dulcamara, and was utterly unknown to Donizetti, proving to be the disguised mother of the portly Charlatan, to whose imperious pomp the fullest justice is done by Mr. Frank Matthews.

The piece throughout is sustained by all the actors with a spirit of hearty “fun,” corresponding to that to which it is indebted for its existence. Miss M’Donnell, not a very remarkable actress in farce, is the smartest of Nemorinos, finding in Miss Addison’s Adina the liveliest of village coquettes, and Mr Charles’s Belcore the most portentous of rivals. The mysterious Pierrot, a character compounded of mock tragedy and grotesque Italian gesticulation, is ably represented by Mr. J. Stoyle, and two small parts, a notary and an extra coquette, are made prominent by Mr. Gaston Murray and Miss E. Bufton.

Dulcamara is a great success, likely to please everybody, with the single exception of a certain medical practitioner, towards whom the satire of the work is obviously pointed.

Mr. Boucicault’s Hunted Down still forms the chief portion of the evening’s entertainment.


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