Graphics, Image for Owens,  J. E. , the American Comedian, as
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Graphics, Image for Owens, J. E. , the American Comedian, as "Solon Shingle,"
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:Owens, J. E. , the American Comedian, as "Solon Shingle,"
Description:Owens, J. E. , the American Comedian, as "Solon Shingle,"
1st Performance:Jul 3, 1865
Theatre:Adelphi
Source:The Illustrated Sporting News, Jul 8, 1865, p. 277
See Source:Go to Source Images (8.3 MB)
Review:The Illustrated Sporting News, Jul 8, 1865, p. 278

ADELPHI.

On Thursday last [29 Jun, 1865], Mr. J. L. Toole took his annual benefit, and, as a matter of course, the house was crowded in every part; and equally, as a matter of course, the most demonstrative audience the Adelphi sees from year to year had assembled.  It is now a custom to mark Mr. Toole's benefit by the production of some piece written expressly to develop his remarkable and versatile qualities.  Generally speaking these dramatic efforts have not been remarkable for great excellence, and although the actor has made signal successes in them, they have been attributable to his individual efforts, rather than to the material on which he has worked.  The drama of "Through Fire and Water," by Mr. Walter Gordon, proves to be no exception to the rule, for the piece is utterly unworthy the amount of genius infused into it by Mr. Toole.  It is a domestic drama, and treats of the loves of Joe Bright, Mr. Toole; and Ruth, Miss Henrietta Simms.  Joe is a fireman and has saved Ruth from a conflagration.  She is nurtured and watched with tender care by the fireman and his sister Honor, Mrs. Alfred Mellon, and returns their solicitude by the most ardent affection.  For Honor the love is that of a sister, for Joe that of the man whose lot in life she would share; but it is revealed at last that the unknown Ruth is a rich heiress, and then various characters appear upon the scene to complicate the hitherto pleasant life of the trio, and the poor fireman is subjected to a series of doubts and fears, which prove too severe a trial for his brain, and he drowns his cares in drink.  Whilst in a state of intoxication, he reverses almost every trait in his character.  From a perfect man, he degrades himself to a perfect beast--and goes so far as to aim a blow at his devoted sister.  This state of things happily does not last long, and he recovers to a better frame of mind, but then comes an agony of doubt, remorse, and shame, at length to be dispelled by perfect happiness.  The acting of Mr. Toole, in the character of Joe Bright, is beyond all praise.  Nothing could be more artistic than the effect he produced from end to end, and if anything can add to his fame, it will be the rendering of the trials and sufferings of the distracted fireman.  The support he received from Mrs. Alfred Mellon cannot be too highly estimated.  Her portrayal of the good sister Honor is very marvellous--and should be seen by all lovers of true acting.  Miss Simms was the Ruth, and a more pleasing representative of the character could not be found.  The other characters were played with the care which usually characterises the Adelphi company.  The piece was, as it could not fail to be, perfectly successful, and the efforts of Mr. Toole were received with every mark of approval.  Joe Bright will, no doubt, become one of his most popular characters.

On Monday last [3 Jul, 1865], the long-announced Mr. John E. Owens, an American comedian of repute, made his first appearance on these boards in the part of Solon Shingle, in a drama of that name.  We may at once say that the vehicle for the introduction of this gentleman to the English stage is about the very worst American importation we have ever had, whilst the actor is about the very best.  Mr. Owens is undoubtedly a great actor, and his humour is so thoroughly original, that we seek in vain for anything to compare with it.  Solon Shingle is a stupid old Yankee farmer, who has a weakness for law--and indulges in it to his heart's content.  This propensity gives rise to the great scene of the case--the trial of "the great apple-sass case"--than which we never heard anything more completely and excruciatingly funny.  The audience is kept in a long-continued shriek, and it is a relief when it is all over, for in this hot weather it is slightly fatiguing to writhe with laughter.  Mr. Owens has two things against him--the badness of his piece and the weather--but if he only keeps on until his reputation extends, and cooler nights set in, even "Solon Shingle" will draw crowds to the Adelphi Theatre.  The success of the actor was triumphant.



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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."