|Gilbert's Plays > The Palace of Truth > Review of the Revival at the Haymarket
The Palace of Truth, which was revived at this house on Saturday night for the first time since the days of its original representation, nearly seven years ago, is another of those fantastic “fairy pieces” which Mr. Gilbert was once so fond of writing and which once were so popular. Mrs. Kendal was the original representative of their whimsical heroines, and none of her subsequent performances have had the power to dull the memory of the praise she won in these characters. Any particular excellence of a particular actor will always exercise a somewhat unfortunate influence on the revival of the piece which is remembered for that fact, an influence which extends to the piece itself as much as to the performers.
We doubt very much whether those who were pleased with the Palace of Truth when they saw it seven years ago at this house will be quite so pleased with it now, and we doubt, too, whether those who may see it now for the first time will be inclined to give it credit for all those good qualities which it was once held to possess. The idea is quaint, if not very original, and permits a fair display of the author’s humorous fancy, couched, as usual, in neat and sometimes graceful language. But the conceit is too strained, the humour somewhat too prolonged. It strikes at first, but afterwards it grows somewhat wearisome.
The second act is by far the best, and is, at first, amusing enough, but as we know from the first that in this act all the characters appear in their true light – that is, a directly opposite light to that in which we have hitherto seen them – the spectators have, as it were, arrived at the conclusion long before the author. The idea, moreover, is scarcely maintained with strict consistency throughout, and some of the characters appear to speak the truth, or its opposite, at their own sweet will. Possibly the exigencies of the piece may have demanded this, but it may to some convey the idea that the author has been unable to support his conception to the end. Three short scenes instead of three somewhat long acts would, we suspect, have been found more manageable.
The performance was, on the whole, a fair, though by no means a brilliant one, and a good deal of humour of the situations was lost by Mr. Buckstone’s unfortunate ignorance of the words he had to speak. Miss Marion Terry now represents the heroine with much ingenuous grace, and Mr. Herbert the hero with scarcely sufficient ease; Mrs. Chippendale, Miss Hill, Mr. Everill, Mr. Clark, and Mr. Braid occupy the same positions in the cast as they did on the first production of the piece, and Mr. Howe is well suited with the character of Aristæus, a seeming cynic whom the truth-compelling atmosphere of the enchanted palace reveals as an amiable, kind-hearted man. The lady who lately attempted the principal part in the short-lived Fame has now been relegated to a subordinate part better suited to her capacities, which appear, consequently, to be of some little more value than her late performance would have led one to suppose.
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