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Lloyd's Newspaper 31 December 1871


The Christmas novelty was an “original grotesque opera,” written by Mr. W.S. Gilbert, music by Mr. Arthur Sullivan, entitled Thespis; or, the Gods Grown Old.  As a spectacle this is the most magnificent thing ever seen at the Gaiety, dresses, scenery, and effects all being of the most splendid character.  But as an opera it is an excessively dull affair, devoid of either wit or fun, save that to be found in a song capitally rendered by Mr. Toole, about a railway director who so persistently “tipped” every grade of railway employés that at last they thought he did it out of a joke.  To retaliate, the engine-drivers and guards, in continuation of the joke, used to stop the train in the middle of tunnels, beyond the proper stations, &c.  At length the regular passengers didn’t like it, the traffic fell off, the railway and rolling stock were sold for a mere nothing, and the jocose director is now to be seen selling fusees at the West-end.  This song is quite in the style of the Bab Ballads, and it has a choral refrain, in which the whole of the company imitate the swelling noise and whirl of a railway train, that tells well.  Mr. Sullivan has supplied one or two graceful melodies, but the music generally is light and thin, without the catching sprightliness of the style on which it is evidently founded.  Mr. Toole as the showman, whose actors change places with the gods, enlivens the scene by some ludicrous “gag,” which keeps the piece going; but still it flags considerably towards the close.  Miss E. Farren is as spirited as ever as Mercury, and Miss Loseby, Miss Tremaine, and Mdlle. Clary are excellent in the vocal portions assigned them.  What success the piece may attain will be mainly due to the richness and splendour of its mounting.

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