Graphics, Image for Mother Shipton, Her Wager; or, Harlequin Knight of Love and the Magic Whistle
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Graphics, Image for Mother Shipton, Her Wager; or, Harlequin Knight of Love and the Magic Whistle
THE   ADELPHI   THEATRE   CALENDAR
A Record of Dramatic Performances at a Leading Victorian Theatre

Formerly the Sans Pareil (1806-1819), later the Adelphi (1819-1900)
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Title:Mother Shipton, Her Wager; or, Harlequin Knight of Love and the Magic Whistle
Description:Mother Shipton, Her Wager; or, Harlequin Knight of Love and the Magic Whistle by C. T. Thompson.
1st Performance:Dec 26, 1856
Theatre:Adelphi
Source:The Illustrated London News, Jan 3, 1857, p. 667
Review:The Illustrated London News, Jan 3, 1857, p. 668

ADELPHI.

This theatre deservedly takes credit to itself for having originated the composite entertainment of burlesque-pantomime now generally adopted in preference to pantomime pure and simple.  As public taste improves, public amusements aim at a higher and yet higher mark; and Christmas pieces are projected upon a scale of literary expense as well as scenic splendour little thought of in ruder periods.  The pantomime opening is no longer abandoned to the mere writer of doggerel but shows marks of careful authorship, and aspires to mythological importance never dreamed of in former days.  Not only the requirements of the nursery have to be consulted, but those demands which the advanced intellect of the adult portion of the audience make on the talents of those who expect the patronage of the intelligent.  Accordingly, a meaning must be implied in the extravagance committed, and a deep significance lies in the ostensible absurdity, which only the shallow would regard as merely intended to excite thoughtless laughter.  The introductions to the Christmas pantomimes at the Adelphi have been characterised by singular elegance and have included a combination of classic and romantic allusion which has been exceedingly graceful and judicious.  Instruction and amusement have gone hand-in-hand and cooperated in producing a result by which the mind of the spectator has been stimulated and improved.  The pantomime of this season, "Mother Shipton, her Wager; or, Harlequin Knight of Love and the Magic Whistle," blends the various delightful elements to which we have alluded.  The general story we have already set forth in our previous Number; and the reader must have been impressed by the delicacy of the fable, which opposes moral and magical agencies and gives the triumph to the former.  In working out this amiable purpose, a beautiful visionary spectacle is presented, in a series of finely-painted scenes, in which all is in harmony with the leading idea, which is further illustrated by some subordinate imaginings of a subtle poetic character, for which the audience are indebted solely to the prodigality of the writer's talent, and which are not generally provided or expected in compositions of the sort.  Madame Celeste and Miss Wyndham, as Sir Beau and Constance, present two moving Watteau portraits which are perfectly charming; and the scenes that they move among--from the coast of Normandy to the scene in China, where Harlequin and Columbine descend on the stage invested with the delicate honours of porcelain, and looking for all the world like an animated Dresden vase--are all appropriately distinguished for their fitness to unite in one pleasing impression that an exquisite invention has been diligent to bring together the choicest of its treasures, and excite those emotions which are only experienced when a true work of art is witnessed and recognised as "a thing of beauty."  The legend of "Leda and the Isle of Naxos" is especially of this character; and the fairy herself is sweetly portrayed by Miss Keeley, who in these ideal creations always acts in sympathy with the mind of their author.  The scene presented in our illustration is of remarkable brilliancy, but the taste displayed in its conception and arrangement is at least equal to the splendour of its appointments.  The same refined and chastened taste is exhibited throughout the harlequinade, in which the tricks are not of the usual accidental character; but many of them evidently proceed from a more intellectual range of wit than is generally brought to bear upon the chances and changes of the pantomimic scene.  When, also, we consider that actors, not pantomimists, condescend to such characters as Clown and Pantaloon, which are impersonated by Mr. Garden and Mr. Moreland, and that Harlequin and Columbine have Madame Celeste herself and Miss Wyndham for their representatives, it will be readily conceived that not alone a mere material vehicle of whim has been provided, but that the whole realised and animated by intellectual capacity of high histrionic rank.  Thus supported the Adelphi piece is secure of a prolonged existence.

 

ADELPHI THEATRE.—The PANTOMIME every Night.—First week of A NIGHT at NOTTING-HILL.—MONDAY and during the week, DOMESTIC ECONOMY, Mr. Wright.  A NIGHT at NOTTING HILL, Messrs. Wright and Paul Bedford.  MOTHER SHIPTON; or, Harlequin Knight of Love.  Harlequin and Columbine, à la Watteau, Madame Celeste and Miss Wyndham.

 

The Illustrated London News, Jan 3, 1857, p. 667

 

 

The Illustrated London News, Jan 3, 1857, p. 668

 



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Copyright © 1988, 1992, 2013 by Alfred L. Nelson, Gilbert B. Cross, Joseph Donohue.
Originally published by Greenwood Press as The Sans Pareil Theatre 1806-1819, Adelphi Theatre 1819-1850: An Index to Authors, Titles, Performers, 1988, and The Adelphi Theatre 1850-1900: An Index to Authors, Titles, Performers and Management, 1992.
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The Adelphi Theatre Calendar revised, reconstructed and amplified.  Copyright © 2013, by Alfred L. Nelson, Gilbert B. Cross, Joseph Donohue.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License, with the exception of graphics from The Clip Art Book, edited by Gerard Quinn and published by Crescent in 1990.  These images are reproduced in accord with the publisher’s note, which states "The Clip Art Book is a new compilation of illustrations that are in the public domain.  The individual illustrations are copyright free and may be reproduced without permission or payment.  However, the selection of illustrations and their layout is the copyright of the publisher, so that one page or more may not be photocopied or reproduced without first contacting the publishers."