|Patience > No. 2 Company in Portsmouth
From Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle (Portsmouth, England), Wednesday, October 4, 1882; Issue 5235.
The English appreciation of the peculiar humour, literary and musical, of Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan would seem to know no bounds. Familiar as our playgoers have become with the chief compositions of this harmonious pair, it would really appear that in this case the appetite does not pall by what it feeds on. Despite the counter attraction of a "grand concert" at the Portland Hall, which filled that large building to overflowing, there was an equally crowded audience at the Theatre Royal to witness the revival of "Patience" on Monday evening.
This is perhaps the most extravagant in its humour of anything that Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan have given us, though the fun is necessarily less rollicking than that which abounds in the nautical comic opera which may be reckoned as their first triumph. No "provincial" ever met the æsthetic people who flop and flounder so ludicrously "all over the place" in this opera, and there are sceptics bold enough to declare that no Londoner's experience is in this respect one whit more varied. However this may be, everybody can laugh heartily at the phase of fashionable folly which is here so mercilessly satirised, and if any doubts exist as its perfect genuineness, what does it matter when we are treated to such admirable fooling?
Mr. D'Oyly Carte's Company, which is now appearing nightly at the Theatre Royal is, with four exceptions, the same as visited us last December, when "Patience" was produced in Portsmouth for the first time. The exceptions are these:— Mr. Allen Morris is the Archibald Grosvenor, in place of Mr. Greyling, whose exquisite, though not powerful tenor voice, so charmed us; Mr. Harvey Lucas replaces Mr. H. Bolini as Lieutenant the Duke of Dunstable; Mr. W. T. Wright has the small part of Bunthorne's solicitor previously taken by Mr. Chambers; and last, though not least by any means, Miss Florence Marryat is the Lady Jane, vice Miss Fanny Harrison. Only two of these changes could have any importance, and it is enough to observe that they have been effected without leading to any deterioration in the recognised excellence of the company.
Miss Marion Grahame's interpretation of Patience, if not marked by much subtlety, is at any rate always pleasing, and her popularity is undeniable. Her voice strikes us as being just a little shrill, but it is always under command, and is often skilfully managed. The finest ballad in the opera is unquestionably the one towards the close, "Love is a plaintive song," and it must be acknowledged that Miss Grahame sings it splendidly. The audience was roused to enthusiasm on Monday night, and notwithstanding the strain on the singer's powers, she graciously repeated the last verse.
Miss Florence Marryat displays considerable dramatic fire and a humour almost sardonic as the Lady Jane, while her singing is equally marked by good taste and feeling. Of the "love-sick maidens" special mention should be made of Miss Kate Cohen and Miss Constance Snow, who form such a pleasing contrast both physically and artistically.
Mr. Purdon's portrait of the "fleshly" poet is too well known to need detailed description. It is rather as a comedian than as a vocalist that he makes his mark, and certainly of the two gifts the former is more essential to an adequate rendering of the part. Mr. Morris is not an unfit exponent of the "idyllic" poet, and with an agreeable voice, it was quite an matter of course that his "Prithee, pretty maiden," should be encored. The wonder is that the same compliment was not rendered to the "Silver Churn," which, if somewhat flimsy, is certainly one of the gems of the opera.
As before, the active interest of the audience is not roused until the entrance of the dragoons with their lively chorus, in which, as Colonel Calverley, Mr. F. Federici strengthens the very favourable impression he produced on his first visit here. His inspiriting song "When I first put this uniform on," with its equally inspiriting chorus, evoked enthusiastic applause and a repetition was inevitable. All three officers acquitted themselves well, and were especially amusing in their "stained-glass attitudes." The accompanying trio, with its moral, "You can't get high æsthetic tastes, like trousers, ready made," is as catching as ever. A pardonable piece of "gag" on Monday evening in reference to Egypt had, of course, the calculated effect of "bringing down the house."
One feels more than ever that the conclusion of the opera is an anti-climax, even while being fully conscious that this was intended by the author and composer. It is certainly a descent from the "high æsthetic line" to the very delectable, highly respectable young man of the period, with his female partner of a corresponding type. The transformation is, indeed, too violent to be quite agreeable, and it is a curious illustration of the force of example that the eye has become so accustomed to the "flopping" maidens of the sickly school, that the sudden intrusion in the scene of "Madame Louise young girls," with their new clothes and their second-hand airs and graces produces a certain revulsion of feeling. This, however, is a comparatively trifling matter. All than an average English audience demands is that it shall be amused, and this want Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan have supplied without stint. "Patience will be repeated every evening this week, and there is also to be a special day performance on Saturday.
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