After the opera of "Der Freyschütz," (which, on the occasion, was performed with additional accompaniments whose scores are too elaborate to describe) the new pantomime, entitled "Harlequin and King Pepin; or, Valentine and Orson," was produced on Tuesday last. The plot of the original story is sufficiently well known: our business is to show how far it has been mutilated and infringed upon under pantomime license.
The subject of the opening seems to have been conceived in the shape of a parody upon Thomson's "Castle of Indolence," but is not carried out quite poetically or even effectively. What a doughty pantomime knight Sir Industry would have made! Yet we cannot but admire the idea of producing Industry from a beehive and approve of the manner in which the little fairy (which, by the bye, she ought not to be) silences the uproar produced in the school of idleness by her magical presence.
The change of scene here is very good--the rail-roads, the windmills, &c., are proofs of the progress of industry, but we confess we do not understand the string of charity children with the beadle at their head. After a while, the Geniuses make an arrangement that two babes--Valentine and Orson--are to be separately educated by them, not, however, with any view to rival the exertions of modern philanthropists,
Whose maxims are much more to sway than teach.
These conveniently-found babes are accordingly consigned to the care of a dry nurse, one Mr. Blandinian, who is so far neglectful of his charge as to lay them down to sleep in a forest, where a selection is made of the gemini, one being carried off by a bear, and the other by Pepin. Our engraving shows the finding of the child by the king--
A hunting king, who strode that way.
On this, Old Time is introduced as chronicler or chorus, like Gower in "Henry V," and kindly informs us that he has been going at a quicker rate than usual, for we are to suppose the lapse of eighteen years in thirty seconds between the former scene and the present. The modern cut of his coat, and the appendage of a Dutch clock, were extremely ludicrous, and excited much mirth.
Valentine being now full grown at court and Orson also in the woods, the two brothers become distinguished--each a hero in his way, and in each other's way too; for the wild man having committed vast depredations on the subjects of King Pepin, is encountered by his unknown brother, and though somewhat more than a match for him vi et armis is ultimately overcome by the help of Bacchus, the wild man having been a teetotaller "from his youth upwards." A reward having been offered for his apprehension, a certain Prince Haufrey finds him, and taking advantage of "his unconscious state," brings him prisoner to court, where he does a world of funny things. In a short time, he becomes tame and so does the story--and then comes the usual transformation, with the noisy music and incessant action.
In the harlequinade, there is nothing particular to praise or censure. Some changes were cleverly performed, and some cleverly imagined--for instance, an easy chair becoming a bed of thorns, a barrel organ, changed into the singing mouse, and a few others, not forgetting the, plaster figures of Queen Victoria and King Louis Philippe. The finale, representing the last glories of Nelson, with the representation of his column in Trafalgar-square, was about the most effective feature in the piece. We must not omit to give our unqualified praise to Mr. W. H. Payne, who, in the part of Orson, was most admirable. His parody dance would have delighted Carlotta Grisi herself. The department in which appropriateness of design and thorough knowledge of effect were combined, was, as usual, under the unrivalled surveillance of Mr. Blamire. We regret that the house was not such as we have seen of old.
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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.|
|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."|