|The Sorcerer > Reviews > Review of the 1878 Touring Company in Hull
"THE SORCERER" AND “TRIAL BY
JURY" AT THE THEATRE ROYAL.
The Hull Packet and East Riding Times (Hull, England),
We think if lovers of honest, satirical fun and good music knew what excellent fare has been provided this week at the theatre they would have attended in larger numbers.
The dialogue of "The Sorcerer" is not remarkably witty, and the story is somewhat fragmentary and inconsequent, but it suffices to enable Mr. Sullivan to set some bright, melodious music. On the whole the music seems more suggestive of sentiment than comicality, but occasionally, as, for example, in the glee "She will tend him, nurse him, mend him," it is impossible to conceive anything more grotesquely quaint and droll. That item was deservedly encored, and what may be called the "Nosegay Chorus" received a similar compliment. The operetta abounds in beautiful airs, sung chiefly by Miss Duglas Gordon as Aline, and Miss T. Cummings as Constance. One song, "Young hearts never to part," sung by Miss Gordon, is a charming melody, and was beautifully rendered.
The "Sorcerer" suggests remembrances of "Der Freichutz" and "The Palace of Truth," the latter being, we need not say, the work of the same writer as the author of the text of "The Sorcerer." The plot turns upon the simple incident that a philanthropic soldier having got in his mind the notion that the world would be happier if the rich married the poor and the old the young, consults a Sorcerer, who possesses a charm which will bring that desirable result to pass. The charm is a liquor which causes all who partake of it to fall frantically in love with their opposites. The charm is put into practice in a certain village at which all the people are invited to a marriage festival, and are regaled with the magic liquor. Thereupon boys begin to woo old damsels, and young maidens are smitten by old men, causing no end of grotesque and laughable situations. The trifle, for it professes to be little more than an absurd conceit — does not, of course, approach the completeness of conception and detail exhibited in "The Palace of Truth." It however suffices, as we have said, for its purpose.
The piece is capitally mounted. The dresses were rich and picturesque, and the chorus were much above the stamp of ordinary operatic companies. Their voices were fresh, tuneful, and well trained, and they acted with spirit and grouped themselves with most unusual effectiveness. We have never heard a better band, always excepting the Italian opera band, at the theatre, and Mr. H. Clark, the conductor, deserves special mention. The acting and singing of the principal parts could hardly have been better, several characters being specially clever. Perhaps the most finished impersonation was that of Dr. Daly, by Mr. F. Cook, who had a difficult rôle, and whose make-up and acting were simply perfect. Miss H. Coveney matched Mr. Cook's excellence in her performance of The Pew Opener, while Mr. Ryley could scarcely have been surpassed as Mr. Wells (the Sorcerer), whose singing of "My name's John Wellington Wells," was immensely attractive. We ought to mention, also, Mr. Esmond as Alexis, and Mr. Rousbey as Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre, who both sang and acted admirably. The same may be said of Miss Brandram as Lady Sanagazure.
"Trial by Jury," which concluded the performances, is rather more farcical in character, but was quite as clever, and equally well performed — in fact, it would be considered by many, perhaps, as the more original and happiest conceit of the two.
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