|Gilbert's Plays > The Palace of Truth >
A pleasant revival of Mr. W. S. Gilbert’s Palace of Truth at this theatre on Friday afternoon enabled two interesting experiments to be made. These were Miss Woodhall’s début in Mrs. Kendal’s old part of the Princess Zeolide, and Mr. George Grossmith’s attempt to rise from opera-bouffe to the higher artistic level of comedy in the character of King Phanor.
The play, though somewhat less strongly cast than formerly, proved by the reception it met with that practical mindedness of the 19th century is not inconsistent with a sympathetic appreciation of the fairy element on the stage when this is presented with the poetic fancy and the touch of satire characteristic of Mr. Gilbert’s work. In the Palace of Truth the fairy element has, indeed, a very practical task to perform, in showing up the weakness of human nature alike in the King, the courtier, the matron, the coquette, and the unsophisticated maiden. The withdrawal in King Phanor’s enchanted castle of the mask of language which humanity habitually wears, and the odd results ensuing, kept the house in a ripple of merriment.
Miss Woodall’s performance showed that she has acquired a certain amount of art without, as yet, the faculty of concealing it, and it is probable that experience may develop her into a graceful, if not a sympathetic actress. Mr. Grossmith, for his part, did not quite succeed in shaking off his opera-bouffe manner, but his many sly touches of humour agreeably recalled Mr. Buckstone’s appearance in the same character. As Azema, the coquette, Miss Kate Rorke gave a new proof of the delicacy and refinement she has so carefully cultivated elsewhere, in a class of piece little favourable to a development of the feminine graces.
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