|Review from The Sporting Gazette.
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The Sporting Gazette, issue 504, Jan. 6, 1872, p. 14
GAIETY. – The Christmas bill of fare provided by Mr. Hollingshead for his patrons consists of Mr. Byron’s drama of “Dearer than Life,” brought out at the Queen’s Theatre about three years since, and a new grotesque opera, entitled “Thespis; or, the Gods Grown Old,” written by Mr. W.S. Gilbert, the music composed by Mr. Arthur Sullivan. … For the subject and Olympian characters of the new grotesque opera, “Thespis; or, the Gods Grown Old,” Mr. Gilbert again has recourse to mythology, but his plot is entirely original and ingenious, though slight, and may be briefly summarised. The gods on Olympus are growing old, disinclined to fulfill their respective duties, and lamenting the decay of their power and influence over mortals when Thespis, a theatrical manager, ascends the sacred mountain with his travelling company, to enjoy the pleasures of a pic-nic. Being consulted by Jupiter as to the best remedies to be adopted to remedy the evils the gods complain of, Thespis in the first place suggests that the Olympians should join his company on a starring tour. This not appearing feasible, he then proposes that the gods should pay a visit to the earth, and hear for themselves the opinions of mortals of their decline. This proposition is accepted, and the gods descend to earth, leaving Thespis and his company to represent and assume the functions of Jupiter and the absent deities in the interim, and carry on the government of Olympus, Mercury alone remaining to act as guide and adviser to the mortals as to their duties. The results of this scheme are that under the free and easy rule of Thespis everything goes wrong, and endless complications arise. The sun takes to rambling out at night with the moon, Venus ordains that all babies be born grown up, Ceres causes all the crops to grow upside down, Mars abolishes fighting, Time abolishes Saturdays, Bacchus, who is a teetotaler, contrives that the grapes shall yield nothing but ginger beer, and more serious difficulties arise in the matrimonial relations of the Thespians in the [sic] capacities as gods and goddesses, inconsistent with their matrimonial relations as mortals, so that the experiment turns out a complete failure, and the erring and presumptuous Thespians are at once, on the return of the gods at the expiration of a year, summarily ejected from Olympus, and ignominiously returned to earth. This slender story, affording many opportunities for laughable situations and humorous and satirical dialogue, is illustrated by a charming and artistically effective scene of the heights of Olympus, with the Temple of Jupiter in ruins, in the first act, and restored by the Thespian scene painter in the second, and by numerous smartly written songs and choruses, the music of which, composed by Mr. Arthur Sullivan, is fanciful, sparkling, and tuneful, conspicuous among which are a quaint lyric, “Oh! I’m the Olympic Drudge,” [sic] and a lively patter song, “Olympus in a Terrible Muddle,” [sic] descriptive of the sad blunders perpetrated by the Thespians, both sung with admirable point and effect by Miss Farren; a very humorous song about “A Railway Director,” delivered with unctuous comicality by Mr. Toole, seconded by a rattling locomotive-like chorus at the end of each verse; a duet between Mdlle. Clary and Miss Loseby, and, above all, a very graceful and plaintive ballad, “Young Robin,” which is rendered with unusual expression and simple pathos by Mdlle. Clary. The opera is mounted with all the splendour and elegance of costumes and appointments for which the Gaiety is celebrated, and with these advantages, superadded to the quaint drollery of Mr. Toole as Thespis, the mercurial vivacity and gay liveliness of Miss Farren as Mercury, the naïve and charming singing of Mdlle. Clary, seconded by the effective vocal efforts of Miss Loseby and Miss Tremaine, the graceful personal charms of Miss Behrens, [sic] Miss Wilson, &c, the grotesque fun of the brothers Payne, and the quiet humour of Mr. Maclean as the aged Jupiter, Mr. Soutar as Tipseion and deputy Bacchus, this extravaganza is entitled to, and will be certain of, a lengthened career.
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