|Gilbert > Gilbert's Plays > Sweethearts > Reviews of the 1885 Revivals
The change of programme provided at the Haymarket on Saturday night may be described as unexampled during the career of the present management, consisting as it does of Katherine and Petruchio, Garrick’s version of The Taming of the Shrew, Mr. Gilbert’s Sweethearts, and Buckstone’s Good for Nothing – that is to say, a blending of Shakespearian farce and of modem high and low comedy its extremest forms. Signs were not wanting that this somewhat violent breach of the traditions of the new Haymarket Theatre jarred upon the popular sense of the fitness of things. The rough “pantomime rallies” with which Garrick’s farce was played provoked some murmurs of discontent; and indeed it must be owned that Mr. Forbes Robertson, who played Petruchio, carried his assumption of brutality to excess, exhibiting little or no suggestive by-play by way of relief, while Mrs. Bernard-Beere as Kate, not only looked little of the shrew but failed to convey that the taming process was anything more than an artful compromise on her part, pending a renewal of hostilities.
Much more congenial to the house was the poetic and touching love-story told by Mr. Gilbert in Sweethearts, and so felicitously interpreted by Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft, as the lovers who, separated by a foolish misunderstanding in their youth, meet in a state of bachelor and spinsterhood after 30 years, she the capricious “tease” who treasures the souvenir of her love, he the passionate youth who forgets even his old sweetheart’s name. There is a wonderful amount of home truth in this admirably written sketch or “dramatic contrast” in which Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft move their audience to tears as powerfully as in other parts they are accustomed to move them to laughter.
As Nan in Good for Nothing, the unkempt and unwashed hoyden who is cured of her slatternly propensities by the first growth of love and jealousy in her heart, Mrs. Bancroft gave another illustration of her skill, which if less in consonance with the recent traditions of the theatre than her impersonation in Mr. Gilbert’s piece, was no less admirable from the point of view of art. The performance as a whole gave poignancy to the regret which all playgoers necessarily feel at the approaching retirement of Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft from the duties of theatrical management.
At the Prince’s Theatre yesterday, a varied and interesting performance was given for the benefit of Mr. W. H. Griffiths, comprising Crutch and Toothpick, with most of the original cast, and Mr. Gilbert’s Sweethearts, with Mr. and Mrs. Beerbohm Tree in the title parts.
Page modified 13 August, 2011 Copyright © 2007-9 The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive All Rights Reserved