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Review of the 1878 Revival from The Times
Monday, November 25, 1878
 
THE THEATRES

A change of programme at the Folly Theatre substitutes for the Idol and Tantalus (the old Night of Terror under a new name) Mr. Gilbert’s Wedding March, and a “comedy” called Retiring, the work of Mr. W. H. Williamson. The latter piece has been presented to the public once before, on the occasion of a morning performance at the Globe Theatre, when, it is to be presumed, its success was such as to warrant its translation to a more regular sphere of existence. A more obvious argument for its production at this theatre lies, perhaps, in the fact that that if not actually written for Mr. Brough, it at least provides him with a part of dominant interest, and one which affords him every opportunity for the display of those peculiar qualities which his late devotion to the eccentricities of burlesque has grafted on an original stock of genuine comic humour. In this respect the piece may certainly be allowed to be successful, and it may, of course, prove successful in a wide and more material respect. But a good piece it scarcely merits to be called, though not devoid of a certain humour of its own, not of a very refined or original type, which certainly loses no point so far as the Sam Snaffles of Mr. Brough is concerned. Refined, in one sense, a piece could not well be expected to be which deals with the fortunes of a retired livery-stable keeper and his family; but there is a way of handling vulgar matters without identifying oneself with one’s subject which Mr. Williamson seems to have missed, possibly has not cared to employ. Mrs. Snaffles finds a worthy exponent in Mrs. Carter; Miss Lydia Thompson invests the character of Mag, “a domestic,” with comical individuality; and Miss Rose Cullen is able at least to make Miss Nelly Snaffles a very agreeable young lady to look at.

Mr. Gilbert’s Wedding March, a version of the popular Palais Royal farce, Le Chapeau de paille d’Italie, is a really comical piece of absurdity, which should be well remembered from its long career of popularity at the Court Theatre a few years ago. Of the old cast, Mr. Hill is the only one included in the present revival, but, as his remarkably humorous presentation of deaf old Uncle Bopaddy was one of the principal features of the original performance, the exception is a notable one. Miss Lydia Thompson as the Marchioness of Market Harborough, and Mr. Brough as Poppytoff, the father of the bride, are the most prominent after Mr. Hill; but Mr. Brough again shows a tendency to extravagance, which, a dangerous mistake always, is doubly dangerous in a piece of this class, already extravagant enough in its whimsicalities, and requiring to be tempered rather than exaggerated by the actors. It is owing in a great measure to Mr. Brough that the piece seems now a trifle long and inclined to drag a little here and there in the later scenes, which we do not remember to have found the case at the Court Theatre. The performance will, doubtless, improve after a few night’s experience, and gain that smoothness and rapidity which are essential to pieces of this class, of which this is certainly one of the most amusing.


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