[Advert from The Stage (11 March, 1887 - p.12).]
The Era (19 March, 1887)
On Monday, March 14th, 1887, the Drama,
by Robert Buchanan and Harriet Jay,
“ALONE IN LONDON.”
John Biddlecombe ... ... Mr FELIX PITT
Annie Meadows ... ... Miss ETHEL ARDEN
Jack Woods ... ... Mr F. BETHSON
Richard Redcliffe ... ... Mr A. C. LILLY
Spriggins ... ... Mr CHARLES REEVES
Jenkinson ... ... Mr J. A. HOWELL
Mr Burnaby ... ... Mr GEORGE YATES
Walter Burnaby ... ... Mr W. GRANVILLE
Ruth Clifden ... ... Miss GRACE HOPE
Liz Jenkinson ... ... Miss HELENA LISLE
Charlie Johnson ... ... Mr JAMES STEVENSON
Little Paul ... ... Little JULIA REEVES
Tom Chickweed ... ... Miss KATIE BARRY
Mrs Moloney ... ... Miss HARRIET CLIFTON
Blind Billy ... ... Mr MILO BLYDE
The “Lame Duck” ... ... Mr SPARKES
Robert ... ... Mr HELLER
Inspector of Police ... ... Mr BENSON
“Jim, the Larker” ... ... Mr J. CLARK
Isaacs ... ... Mr HARDING
David ... ... Mr GODFREY
Susan ... ... Miss E. MOODY
Mr Morris Abrahams, we believe, holds the London rights for the representation of the above-named piece, and it is no matter for wonder that he has taken advantage of the very earliest opportunity to present it to his multitudinous patrons. Without drawing invidious comparisons or entering upon what, in spite of classical authority, may be called the disputatious question of taste, it must be said that Alone in London is far more suited for a theatre at the East than for one at the West, and if proof of this were needed it would be found in the absorbed interest and the great enthusiasm with which the piece has been received by Mr Abrahams’ supporters. The drama, it will be remembered, was originally produced at the Olympic in November, 1885, and since then it has met with favour from provincial playgoers. It is the boast of the Pavilion management that the drama is there produced with all the original mechanical effects and appointments on one of the largest and most complete stages in Great Britain, the new machinery recently completed being brought into requisition to heighten the realism and to impress the spectator. This boast, we may say, is fully justified, and when it is recommended that all should see the sudden conversion of the old house at Rotherhithe to the scene of the sluice house and the opening of the flood gates, and the gardens of the “Inventories” with its various coloured lights, we can warmly endorse the recommendation, and can readily accept the declaration that they form pictures hitherto unsurpassed at this theatre. We may add that they reflect great credit, not only on the scenic artist and the machinist, but upon Mr Isaac Cohen, who by general consent is one of the ablest stage-managers in the country. The acting all round has been excellent. The heroine, Annie Meadows, has been very sympathetically played by Miss Ethel Arden, who has contrived to move all hearts to pity, while execration has been the lot of Richard Redcliffe, the villain, as represented by Mr A. C. Lilly. Comic rascality has been well depicted by Messrs Howell and Reeves as respectively Jenkinson and Spriggins, and the waif Tom Chickweed has been splendidly represented by Miss Katie Barry, a young actress, who has been the recipient of well-deserved plaudits. The eccentricities of Charlie Johnson, the peripatetic performer, have been humorously brought out by Mr J. Stevenson. Mr Felix Pitt has won general admiration for his spirited interpretation of the part of the wealthy miller, John Biddlecombe, and Miss Harriet Clifton as Mrs Maloney, with the nimble tongue, and Miss Helena Lisle as Liz Jenkinson are entitled to special mention for good work done.
The Era (7 May, 1887)
On Saturday, April 30th, for the First Time at this Theatre,
the Drama, in Five Acts,
by Robert Buchanan and Harriet Jay, entitled
“ALONE IN LONDON.”
CHARACTERS IN PROLOGUE.
John Biddlecombe ... ... Mr HENRY GASCOIGNE
Jack Woods ... ... Mr J. DELMAGE
Richard Redcliffe ... ... Mr DAVID HONEYSETT
Gipsy Tom ... ... Miss EMMA STOCKLEY
Jenkinson ... ... Mr JOHN HENDERSON
Annie Meadows ... ... Mrs HENRY GASCOIGNE
CHARACTERS IN DRAMA.
Mr Burnaby ... ... Mr EDWARD LEIGH
Walter Burnaby ... ... Mr EDWIN J. WILDE
Ruth Clifden ... ... Miss ELLEN RUTLAND
Richard Redcliffe ... ... Mr DAVID HONEYSETT
Spriggins ... ... Mr WILLIAM GOODWIN
Jenkinson ... ... Mr JOHN HENDERSON
Liz Jenkinson ... ... Miss LOUISE MANVERS
John Biddlecombe ... ... Mr HENRY GASCOIGNE
Charlie Johnson ... ... Mr CHARLES R. STONE
Nan ... ... Mrs HENRY GASCOIGNE
Little Paul ... ... Miss MILLY HENDERSON
Tom Chickweed ... ... Miss EMMA STOCKLEY
Mrs Maloney ... ... Miss CLARA ROSE
The “Lame Duck” ... ... Mr CLARKE
Robert ... ... Mr UNDERWOOD
Inspector of Police ... ... Mr G. REDWOOD
Jim ... ... Mr LEONARD ROBSON
Isaacs ... ... Mr VOWLES
David ... ... Mr JOSEPHS
Susan ... ... Miss LOUISA BARRY
The production of so heavy a piece as Mr Buchanan’s and Miss Harriett Jay’s Olympic drama on Saturday evening at the Church-street house amply testifies to the energy and ability with which Mr Henry Gascoigne is carrying on that old- established theatre. There can be no doubt that the drama possesses situations and incidents thoroughly to the tastes of popular audiences, and its success was never for a moment in doubt on Saturday evening. The enthusiasm over the sluice scene, and the rescue of the heroine from her perilous position, will no doubt be greater when the property waves are not in too great a hurry to “agitate;” but, with the exception of one or two little contretemps inseparable from a first night performance, Alone in London went smoothly enough, and unmistakably got hold of the sympathies of those in front, who can always be relied on to appreciate effect, without troubling themselves as to cause. Several additions and alterations had been made in Mr Gascoigne’s company, with a view to the adequate representation of the drama, and, as a whole, they acquitted themselves with undeniable ability of their several tasks. Mr David Honeysett exhibited a determination and vigour in his career of wrongdoing and heartless cruelty as Richard Redcliff that resulted in howling indignation being thundered forth with unanimity from all parts of the house. The Eliah Coombe-like Jenkinson senior, thief and philosopher, had every justice done to his comic scoundrelism by Mr John Henderson, who, while his dramatic deeds were deprecated, caused considerable laughter by his unctuous and humorous manner. Another comic character, whose popularity became very great, was Mrs Maloney, the benevolent Irishwoman and vendor of the refreshing orange, and Miss Clara Rose’s clever acting is entitled to the very highest praise for the admirable way she played the character. Miss Emma Stockley realised with pathetic force the unhappy, but ever-hopeful waif, Tom Chickweed; Miss Louise Manvers brought unquestionable comic ability to bear upon the part of Liz Jenkinson, the wife of the humble “perfesshonal,” Charlie Johnson, enacted with much humour by Mr Charles R. Stone. Mrs Gascoigne came with credit through the trying part of Nan, though this lady’s depiction of anguish is noisy rather than heart-searching; and Mr Gascoigne was a forcible John Biddlecombe, though his accent was more that of Lancashire than of Suffolk. A very praiseworthy piece of acting can be set down to Mr Edward Leigh as the benevolent Mr Burnaby, and a word of praise may be given to Mr Edwin Wilde as Walter Burnaby. Mr William Goodwin made a fairly good Spriggins, but did not sound the possibilities of the part, and other rôles were entrusted to Miss Ellen Rutland, Miss Milly Henderson, a promising child; Messrs James Delmage, Clarke, Underwood, G. Redwood, Leonard Robson, Vowles, Josephs, and Miss Louisa Barry. The perspective of the Westminster Bridge set was exceedingly fine, and no pains had been spared to mount the drama adequately. Alone in London was produced by arrangement with Mr Morris Abrahams, who has purchased the London rights of representation.
The Otago Witness (New Zealand) (20 May, 1887 - p.28)
THE STAGE IN AUSTRALIA.
NOTES BY SCALFAX.
MELBOURNE, May 10.
Cold and rainy weather is the regular bill of fare now, and we have the cheering prospect of a long and dreary winter. As I write it is raining with a steady and singlehearted earnestness of purpose which will materially swell the tram receipts this night. There is no mistake about our weather, it is not given to deceit. When it rains you know it; and when it is hot, it just boils. We have the most guileless weather under the sun; and like guileless people it is generally looked upon with suspicion and reproach.
“A Run of Luck” is now in the decline of its days, and will not be played after Friday next. The following Saturday will witness the production of a new drama, “Alone in London,” written by Robert Buchanan and Harriet Jay, both of whom have achieved fame as novelists. The drama, which is in the good old five acts, has been highly successful in England and America. Five-act dramas are the admiration of the bar owners at the theatres, it wants a big effort to get comfortably drunk during three intervals. I fail to see why bars should be attached to theatres at all. They are an inducement to drink to many who would not walk 10 yards outside the theatre for it. Many a man goes home drunk, or nearly so, simply through the proximity of the bars, and that vile colonial custom of “shouting,” a custom which should be stamped out as soon as possible. Why should it be necessary for every man who meets you to insist on you taking a drink, and to expect you to stand one in return? You may require one drink, but you must take two, or get a colossal reputation for meanness. This appears to be degenerating into a temperance lecture, so blow the whistle, and off we go again.
The Otago Witness (New Zealand) (27 May, 1887 - p.28)
THE STAGE IN AUSTRALIA.
NOTES BY SCALFAX.
MELBOURNE, May 16.
A cold, rainy, unpleasant Saturday ushered in the new pieces at the various theatres. “Alone in London” was the principal attraction of the evening, the Theatre Royal being crowded to the doors. This drama, the joint work of Mr Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay, both known in the literary world of London, was originally produced at the Olympic Theatre on November 2, 1885, and was only a partial success. It is somewhat too wordy, and the action drags at times in consequence. Five solid acts of sensation were doled out to us, the performance not concluding till close upon 12. The plot is somewhat difficult to boil down to an understandable resume without the sacrifice of much space, but I will make the best effort I can. Annie Meadows (Miss Kate Bishop) is the unsuspecting heroine, who is loved by a worthy miller, John Biddlecomb by name (Mr W. Howe), and Richard Redcliffe (Mr H. Flemming), a very remarkable scoundrel. She marries the villain, as a matter of course, and has an all-round bad time. We find her after six years have passed, with a basket of flowers and a son on Westminster bridge, and at once know what has happened. Her husband ill-treats her, and lives upon her earnings. He is also the cheerful president of a gang of thieves, and one of Annie’s greatest fears is that her son will be brought up to the profession. A charitable banker, who wanders round London by night giving poor people £5 notes, Mr Barnaby (Mr A. Glover), befriends her, and the money is at once seized by the brutal husband. Annie has another protector in Gipsy Tom (Miss Kate Douglas), who gets Redcliffe arrested on a charge of forgery. The Barnabys take Annie into their service, but the husband returns from imprisonment and causes her dismissal. Redcliffe then tries to carry off the child, and, to facilitate matters, ties the mother up to the old sluicegate, where she can comfortably drown when the water rises. Her old lover, the miller, manages, however, to be handy, and rescues her just in time for her to rush to Barnaby’s bank and prevent a burglary planned by her husband. Redcliffe attempts to shoot his wife as a solatium for his failure, and gets stabbed by Gipsy Tom, who is always on hand when he is wanted. The main share of the work falls upon Miss Kate Bishop, who acted in her usual effective manner. Mr Flemming as Redcliffe earned the hearty contempt of the gallery, and is, doubtless, proud of it. Mr Bland Holt as Jenkinson a minor villain, kept the drama from a too dreadful depth of melancholy. The scenery deserves every praise, a view of Westminster Bridge being singled out for particular applause. The mechanical work is very heavy in this drama, the last act having five changes of scene. Pressure of other news prevents my going any further into the details this week.
The Stage (10 June, 1887 - p.13)
On Tuesday in the Queen’s Bench Division the Amy Roselle v. Robert Buchanan alleged slander case came on for hearing. The plaintiff’s counsel, however, stated that the defendant had withdrawn all the statements complained of and had made an apology which was satisfactory, and had, moreover, paid all costs. In these circumstances he asked permission to withdraw the charge. This was granted, and the case came to a satisfactory conclusion.
The Stage (1 July, 1887 - p.13)
At the Theatre Royal, Melbourne, Mr. Bland Holt has produced Alone in London, the entire colonial rights of which he has secured from Mr. Robert Buchanan and Miss Henrietta Jay. The drama has been very elaborately produced, every scene having (in the phraseology of the bills) been “idealised” by Mr. George Gordon. The cast includes Messrs. Walter Howe, Herbert Flemming, J. Wiseman, E. Ryan, A. Glover, E. Coventry (who was the original exponent of the character at the Olympic), and Bland Holt, and Misses Kate Bishop, Kate Douglas, and Mabel Russell, and Mrs. Walter Hill.
The Era (20 August, 1887 - p.13)
HER MAJESTY’S THEATRE.—Lessee, Mr W. McFarland; General Manager, Mr John Cavanah.—Mr John Wainwright and his company had a most successful week here with Drink and Faust, and now we have the Buchanan and Jay realistic Alone in London drawing large pit and gallery audiences. The striking feature of the piece lies in its elaborate mechanical stage settings effected in sight of the spectators. In the way of plot the drama does not bring us anything novel, but it is certainly a fresh sensation to northern folks to find Mr Robert Buchanan the author of certain of the characters, the style of dialogue, and the “business” presented in Alone in London. Seeing this weary, wire-drawn piece, one sighs for an hour of the charming Sophia again. The principal parts are sustained by Misses Lydia Lillian, Louisa Gourlay, and Bessie Foote; Messrs W. H. Brougham, Fred Dobell, Percy Bell, and F. Wilberforce. The drama is very well acted all round, and has given great satisfaction to the popular portions of the theatre.
The New York Times (4 September, 1887)
DROP CURTAIN MONOGRAPHS.
An amusing instance of the susceptibility of modern authors to the charge of plagiarism has come to light in London, England. F. Scudamore, author of the play “First Class,” having quite recently seen Robert Buchanan’s “Alone in London,” was staggered by the discovery that the motive of the former drama is throughout almost the same as that of the latter, with the addition that in Scudamore’s play of “Rags and Bones”—which sounds over here like the title of a drama produced long before “Alone in London”—a poor boy, Jerry Twaddle, who is a dealer in rags and bones, is pursued by village workmen who seek to rob him, while in “Alone in London” a poor boy, Tom Chickweed, a dealer in chickweed and groundsel, is also chased by village workmen. In both plays the poor boy is protected by the hero, and in both also the poor boy is enacted by a female. In “Alone in London” a leading character saves the life of a young man in a boating accident thus becomes acquainted with an heiress, and seeks to win her, although he has a wife, whom he tries to get rid of. In “First Class” a leading character saves an heiress in a railway accident and becomes her lover, although he has a mistress, whom he tries to get rid of. Both these leading characters are associated with a scoundrel named Dan, and both plan a robbery. In “First Class” Dan dresses his daughter up as a boy in order to drop her through the skylight to let in the thieves, and in “Alone in London” the villainous leading character drops his own son through the skylight for the same purpose. Mr. Scudamore had never seen “Alone in London” before he had booked “First Class,” and is quite willing to believe, as he himself is “only an obscure provincial author,” that Mr. Buchanan has never seen either “First Class” or “Rags and Bones.” Assuming that neither could have availed himself of the same source as the other, these coincidences serve strikingly to show that the opportunities for original work on the part of the dramatist are “growing smaller by degrees and beautifully less.”
The Evening Post (Wellington, New Zealand) (6 December, 1887 - p.2)
Mr. Bland Holt’s Dramatic Season.
“ALONE IN LONDON.”
The name of Bland Holt is inseparably connected in New Zealand with dramatic sensationalism in its fullest development, and it is therefore not surprising that Mr. Holt and his company should have been accorded a most hearty reception at the Opera House last night on his reappearance after several years’ absence from the colony. The stalls, pit, and uppor circle were crowded almost to discomfort, and the dress circle was well filled. “Alone in London,” which was selected as the opening piece, contains sensation enough to gratify the most ardent lover of that class of play, and is presented to the public with an evenness of acting and perfectness in mounting such as are not often witnessed even in Wellington. The scenery and mechanical effects are indeed excellent. The view of the grounds connected with the Colinderies, brilliantly lighted up, with pleasure-seekers passing to and fro, that of Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament by night, with wandering minstrels and other loiterers being “moved on” by the dutiful policemen, and steamboats plying on the river, were capital glimpses of London life and scenery. The climax of interest is, however, reached in the third act, where the heroine is tied by her brutal husband in the sluice channel, and the floodgates are opened to allow the water to pour upon her, until she is rescued from her perilous position by her faithful country lover. The raging flood is capitally represented, and last night this scene worked the audience up to the highest possible pitch of excitement and admiration. Turning to the characters in the play, Mr. Holt appeared as Jenkinson, one of those individuals, so well portrayed by Dickens, who live by their wits, and resort to all kinds of shifts to gain a livelihood. The part is invested with an immense amount ot low comedy humour, to which Mr. Holt gave the fullest effect without at any time falling into exaggeration. Mrs. Holt, who is newly introduced to Wellington play-goers, gave an engaging portrait of the character of Annie Meadows, heroine of the piece, in her various changes of fortune—first as an innocent country girl, and afterwards in her squalid London life, selling flowers to get money for her unprincipled husband to squander. The part is an extremely trying one, and was played with natural grace throughout. Mrs. Holt will, however, do well to repress the somewhat painful straining of her voice in the quite superfluous effort to make herself heard all over the theatre. Miss Ida Herbert’s conception and representation of the part of the street arab, Gipsy Tom, was one of the greatest artistic successes of the evening. Mr. Frank Cates’ success in the impersonation of Richard Redcliffe, Annie’s unscrupulous husband, was sufficiently evident from the execration which the audience bestowed upon him whenever he appeared. Mrs. Walter Hill, an old favourite, made the most of the humour in her character of Biddy Maloney, and the cockney swagger of Lizzie Jenkinson (Miss Mabel Tracey) and her husband, Professor “Chawley” Johnson (Mr. A. G. Poulton) aided much in the entertainment of the audience. Mr. Walter Howe acted well as John Biddlecombe. the true-hearted rustic, and tiny Miss Ward won golden opinions for her precocity as Little Paul, son of the heroine. The numerous incidental characters were creditably filled by members of the company. The audience were in thorough sympathy with the actors throughout the evening, and calls before the curtain were frequent. “Alone in London” will be repeated to-night, and to-morrow evening the performance will be under the patronage and in the presence of his Excellency the Governor.
The Stage (9 March, 1888 - p.14)
On Monday evening, March 5, a revival of the drama, Alone in London, by Robert Buchanan and Harriett Jay, took place at this theatre, now under the management of Mr. Morris Abrahams. The play is so well known that any sketch of the plot seems to be quite unnecessary, and we will therefore devote the limited space at command to a description of the present production. Mr.Isaac Cohen, a past master in work of the kind, has undertaken the laborious details of stage arrangement of the drama with the most signal success. A praiseworthy attention to the minutiæ of stage management is perceptible throughout the whole course of the play, and the rapidity and “cleanness” with which the various mechanical changes are effected are worthy of the very highest commendation. We would particularly mention the second scene in the first act, where, from an interior of a low lodging-house in Drury-lane, a transformation is made with the greatest smoothness and despatch to the brilliantly-lighted Westminster-bridge and Houses of Parliament. Mr. J. A. Howell as Benevolent Jenkinson, and in the many aliases of that wily and unscrupulous scoundrel, gave indication of a careful study of the part, while Mr. A. C. Lilly made fair capital out of the heartless villanies of Richard Redcliffe. Spriggins, in the hands of Mr. Charles Reeves, was a rather colourless “swell,” and Mr. George Yates as the bland and benevolent Mr. Burnaby did not achieve any considerable success. Mr. James Stevenson imparted a good deal of humour to the humble professional Charlie Johnson, and with Miss Maud Stafford secured much applause for the travelling show and its marvellous resources in snakes and kindred attractions. Miss Ethel Arden gave a prettily pathetic rendering of the interesting flower girl, Nan; and the poor little waif, Tom Chickweed, was capitally sustained by Miss Emilie Hatton, who threw a world of sweetness into her simple songs. The Mrs. Malony of Miss Harriet Clifton was a racy and thoroughly artistic impersonation of a virtuous matron of Cord, loud in denunciation and strongly convincing, perhaps more from overwhelming eloquence than from logical exactness, yet convincing still. Miss Elliston had not much to do as Adele Clifton, but acquitted herself in every available way with distinction. Walter Burnaby was suitably “gullish” in the hands of Mr. Webb Darleigh. Mr. Felix Pitt made a capital John Biddlecombe, and Messrs. Sparkes, Sidney, Heller, and Benson were efficient as the Lame Duck, the Ballad Singer, Robert, and the Inspector. Messrs. J. Clark, Harding and Godfrey were also in the cast, and Miss Moody made an agreeable Susan, the servant.
Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper (11 March, 1888 - p.5)
Mr. Morris Abrahams, who has catered so liberally and so successfully for the East-end, has now undertaken the management of this large house on the southern side of the Thames. He opened on Monday night with the Olympic drama, Alone in London, written by Mr. Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay. Though anything but a brilliant specimen of theatrical workmanship it appeals strongly to the feeling of an audience; and several of those present were roused to the point of indulging in exclamations respecting the conduct of the characters. While the villains were received with general hissing, suffering virtue called forth sympathetic approbation. Miss Arden, as Annie Meadows; Miss Kate Varley, as Tom Chickweed; and Mr. Felix Pitt, as John Biddlecombe, carried off the chief honours in the acting. Mr. Cohen’s skilful stage management was made apparent in several of the elaborate “sets,” and the piece held the attention of the audience to the close. The new manager has turned the space formerly occupied by the circus into comfortable shilling stalls; and with the gallery at fourpence, and pit sixpence, a bold bid is made for public favour. Frequent changes are promised, the 19th inst. being fixed for the appearance of Miss Fannie Leslie in Racing.
Reynolds’s Newspaper (11 March, 1888)
Although the theatre in the Westminster-bridge-road, known equally well as Ashley’s and Sanger’s, has been only a few days in the hands of Mr. Morris Abrahams and of his energetic aide-de-camp, Mr. Isaac Cohen, the aspect of the house on Monday evening, when it opened under the management of the former gentleman, showed how much can be done in a short time with enterprise and liberality. The auditorium has been cleaned, garnished, re-upholstered, florally decorated, and festally lighted. The orchestra, which, all praise to the management, consisted of the burnt-out musicians from the Grand, performed between the acts some bright and sparkling music; and the play, Mr. Robert Buchanan’s and Harriet Jay’s “Alone in London,” has never been better represented, or to a more appreciative audience, the scenes representing Westminster-bridge, the old sluice-house and flood-gates on the Thames being splendid specimens of realistic stage scenery, and calling forth admiring plaudits from the beholders. Of the acting also it is a pleasant task to speak in terms of high praise. Mr. A. C. Lilly, without overacting, gave a powerful and uncompromising rendering of the part of the adventurer, Richard Redcliffe; Miss Ethel Arden made of Nan, the flower-girl, a pathetic and telling role; John Biddlecombe, the honest miller—a part created by Mr. Leonard Boyne—found an equally good exponent in Mr. Felix Pitt—higher praise could not be given; Mrs. Molony, in the hands of Miss Harriett Clifton, was made a sketch of Hibernian humour that took the fancy of the house immensely; the part of Liz Jenkinson was well rendered by Miss Maude Stafford; and that of her father, the Benevolent Jenkinson, made as amusing a thief, philosopher, and dubious friend of as one could wish to see, by Mr. J. A. Howell; and Tom Chickweed—a part originally played by, and probably written for herself by, Miss Harriett Jay—elicited sympathy, not to say tears, from the audience, so vividly was it pictured by Miss Emily Hatton. Other parts were played by Messrs. Charles Reeves, Mr. George Yates, and Mr. Webb Darleigh, Mesdames Kate Varley and little Ada Oakley, all working well and loyally for the success which Mr. Abrahams’ opening night obtained. If the enterprising manager goes on as he has begun, the money he has, so to speak, flung out of window will not be long in coming back by the doors, bringing a good many of its coined brethren with it.
The Referee (11 March, 1888 - p.2)
DRAMATIC AND MUSICAL GOSSIP.
THAT wise man of the East, Mr. Morris Abrahams, longing, like Alexander—whose bones have just been discovered not stopping a bung-hole—for new worlds to conquer, has determined to score a victory over the South Londoners, and on Monday evening he began the battle at Sanger’s Amphitheatre. He had only a week for preparation of his material and for the getting into order of the scene of operations, but in that short period he performed miracles. Away went George Sanger’s ring, and in its place sprang up elegant and most comfortable rows of stalls. There sprang up, also, terraces of ferns and flowers, while the sawdust was converted into a handsome carpet, and the pit, capable of holding two thousand, furnished itself with cosy curtains, intended to keep out the draughts which had hitherto been allowed to find their way in without so much as an “order,” to say nothing of a “check.” Handsomely fitted and comfortable stalls have hitherto been regarded by humble playgoers as things beyond their reach, but here they may be commanded for the merry “bob,” and the plebeian may lounge just as cosily for a shilling as at “the West” the aristocrat or the swell does for half a guinea. This new departure ought at once to make the new régime at Sanger’s popular.
The opening attraction was Harriett Jay and Robert Buchanan’s realistic hotch-potch, called “Alone in London,” mounted and played as it was mounted and played last year at the Pavilion Theatre—that is, carefully, liberally, and well. The cast now is pretty much as it was then, and Surrey-siders found plenty of sympathy for Nan and for Liz Jenkinson, and Tom Chickweed, and Mrs. Maloney, and old Burnaby, as represented respectively by Ethel Arden, Maud Stafford, Kate Varley, Harriet Clifton, and George Yates, and plenty of indignation freely expressed for Richard Redcliffe, Spriggins, and Jenkinson, played by A. C. Lilly, C. Reeves, and J. A. Howell. The last-named, though, got some laughter as well as hatred, particular in the scene where, asked if he would enter a pub. and take a drink with Lilly, he asked his audience whether, with such a chance, it was likely he was “a-goin’ to stop outside and suck a hacid drop?”
Mr. Isaac Cohen is entitled to a good deal of praise for his general stage management, and for the splendid manner in which he has drilled his stage crowds.
The Era (27 April, 1889)
On Monday, April 22d, the Drama,
by Robert Buchanan and Harriet Jay, entitled
“ALONE IN LONDON.”
John Biddlecomb ... ... Mr LEONARD BOYNE
Richard Redcliffe ... ... Mr EDMUND GURNEY
Mr Spriggins ... ... Mr JOHN TRESAHAR
Mr Burnaby ... ... Mr GILBERT FARQUHAR
Walter Burnaby ... ... Mr ARTHUR MARCEL
Jenkinson ... ... Mr FAWCETT LOMAX
Charlie Johnson ... ... Mr FRANK M. WOOD
Tom Chickweed ... ... Miss JULIA WARDEN
Jack Woods ... ... Mr SIDNEY BURT
The Lame Duck ... ... Mr HOSKINS
Robert ... ... Mr C. WARREN
Annie Meadows and Nan ... Miss FLORENCE WEST
Little Paul ... ... Miss EVELYN FLEXMORE
Ruth Clifden ... ... Miss ADAH BARTON
Liz Jenkinson ... ... Miss KATIE JAMES
Mrs Malony ... ... Miss HARRIET CLIFTON
Susan ... ... Miss GLENVILLE
Harcourt ... ... Mr R. PEEL
Jim ... ... Mr WYBROW
Isaacs ... ... Mr BENSON
David ... ... Mr COOPER
In our notice of the original production of Alone in London at the Olympic Theatre, on Nov. 2d, 1885, we remarked that the pruning knife, if judiciously used, would transform the drama into a very fair specimen of plays of its class, and one very likely to attract and amuse those playgoers who are not too critically inclined. The success of Mr Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriett Jay’s piece in the provinces has proved that our expectations were well founded; and its favorable reception at the Grand Theatre, Islington, this week has shown that, though Alone in London hardly bore successfully the ordeal of West-end criticism, it nevertheless contains all the elements of provincial and suburban popularity. It must be admitted that probability is not one of its many virtues; but the interest is well sustained throughout, and there is plenty of sympathy and pathos of the kind beloved by the masses. The drama has been well received at the Grand Theatre this week, where it has had the advantage of being extremely well acted. In the original production, as will be remembered, Miss Amy Roselle was the Annie Meadows and Mr Herbert Standing the Richard Redcliffe. Though these artists are absent from the present cast, Mr Wilmot has been able to secure the services of several well-known West-end actors and actresses, and to engage one or two of the original representatives of the play. Mr Leonard Boyne repeats his admirable impersonation of John Biddlecomb, and develops the hearty generosity and genial humour of the miller with excellent effect. Mr Gilberrt Farquhar has considerably improved since he first sustained the character of Mr Burnaby, and his representation of the elderly and guileless banker is even more finished and accurate than on that occasion. Mr John Tresahar resumed his original part of Spriggins, and gave a light and humorous character sketch which was really funny and perfectly free from the exaggeration with which the type is often treated. Mr Edmund Gurney played Richard Redcliffe on Monday with well sustained ease, acute characterisation, and artistic firmness. His reading of the rôle was admirable throughout, and was highly commendable for its true balance and incisive finish. Mr Arthur Marcel has many personal advantages for the representation of a personage like Walter Burnaby, and played the part in a gentlemanlike and unaffected manner. Mr Fawcett Lomax made Jenkinson a very funny individual indeed, and elicited hearty laughter by his droll and amusing treatment of the character. Mr Frank M. Wood hit off cleverly the peculiarities of Charlie Johnson, and with him must be bracketed for warm praise Miss Katie James, whose assumption of the cheery vulgarity of Liz Jenkinson was all the more clever as every playgoer knows how daintily refined Miss James can be upon occasion. Her dance in short skirts was neat, but being a little “out of the piece,” was not received as well as it might have been as a separate variety item. Mr Frank Wood’s song, “The Lime-kiln Club,” came in very well, however, in the Drury-lane lodging-house scene. Miss Florence West gave an excellent impersonation of the afflicted Annie Meadows. Miss West’s refinement of style and delicacy of touch were extremely valuable to her, and her earnestness and intelligence were both distinctly displayed. The affection of the mother for her child, her clinging love for her worthless husband, and her fiery indignation at his dastardly desertion and slander in the second act were all depicted with the histrionic skill of which Miss West is so liberally possessed. Miss Julia Warden assumed with much cleverness and fervour the characteristics of Tom Chickweed; and brought out distinctly the faithful and affectionate qualities of the “waif.” Miss Adah Barton made a prepossessing and agreeable representative of Ruth Clifden; and Miss Harriet Clifton delivered the many good lines given to Mrs Malony with the ease and effect of a practised artist. The smaller parts were all in efficient hands; and the performance, all-round, was very thorough and complete. The scenery, an important item of any production of Alone in London, was as elaborate and effective as was necessary; the mechanical changes being greatly admired. Mr Wilmot seems determined to make the style of entertainment on the stage of his theatre worthy of the beauty and brilliancy of the auditorium, the effect of which, now that the tints have toned down a little, is even more enjoyable to the eye than at the opening of the house.
The Scotsman (24 October, 1889 - p. 4)
“ALONE IN LONDON” AT THE THEATRE ROYAL.
Melodrama, highly coloured, and of the good old-fashioned type, runs at the Theatre Royal this week. “Alone in London,” by Mr Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay, has been before the public for a long time, and in its earlier days was regarded, as in some quarters it is still, as a very effective play of its class, but marred by a too sombre and exaggerated picture of human life. The light and shade are not well balanced, and in depicting the seamy side of life, even in the great Metropolis, realism is sacrificed to effect. It is a piece in which the “gods” revel, and as it has not been seen in the Theatre Royal for nearly half a dozen years, the occupants of that part of the house turned out in great force last night, and enjoyed themselves to their hearts’ content. All the cheaper parts of the building were densely crowded, and although the audience in the gallery were at times rather noisy, they entered thoroughly into the spirit of the play, and cheered virtue and hooted vice with all the vigour they could put forth. The plot, running on somewhat hackneyed lines, deals with an innocent girl lured from her country home by the traditional stage villain, and cast off in London to make her living as a flower-seller. But even there she is pursued by her brutal husband, who seeks to use her and her child to further his nefarious schemes as a swell-mobsman, and she is only saved from a cruel death by the timeous intervention of a former lover from the country. Although the situations are unreal, they are sufficiently exciting and thrilling to suit the taste of those who like this sort of thing, and by the introduction of clever stage mechanism some of the scenes are made very effective. Mr J. F. Elliston’s company gave a very good representation of the play. Miss Lily C. Bandmann acted very sympathetically and with a considerable deal of force and feeling as the sorely-tried wife. The part of her brutal husband, Richard Redcliffe, was sufficiently emphasised on the villainous side by Mr Charles Howitt; and his partners in crime had capable representatives in Mr Burrowes Nugent and Mr T. H. Solly. Mr Wm. Maclaren was manly and sincere in his personation of the kind-hearted country miller, John Biddlecomb; and the poor waif, Tom Chickwood, and the little boy Paul, were very pleasingly rendered by Miss Ethel Ward and Miss Phyllis Graham respectively. The little humour in the piece was supplied by Mr Lonnen Meadows and Miss Ada Tilley, although the fun was rather strained. Other parts satisfactorily filled were those of Mr J. W. Wilkinson, a philanthropic banker; Miss Lilyan Lait, an heiress; and Miss Maggie Cardiff, an Irish orange-seller. An excellent programme of music was rendered during the evening by the orchestra, under Mr B. Bucalossi.
The Northern Echo (29 January, 1890 - p.3)
DARLINGTON THEATRE ROYAL.—“Alone in London,” here this week, is the fine drama—authors, Robert Buchanan and Miss Harriet Jay—which “opened” the beautiful new building after the disastrous fire. The play was then entrusted to a company touring under the ægis of Messrs Miller & Elliston, the well-known dramatic caterers, and both play and company were highly spoken of by all classes of the local community. The drama is now again produced under the auspices of Messrs Miller & Elliston, and it would be a singularly perfect stage piece which did not admit of improvement as time went on. Good as “Alone in London” was upon its first production in Darlington, it is very much better now, both as regards the staging and the acting. The really clever mechanical changes never worked so smoothly, and the cast is quite on a par with that with which the company has been heretofore identified. Several old favourites are still included. There is Percy Bell as Jenkinson, and there is Miss Bessie Foote—one of the good old school—as Mrs Maloney. Mr W. P. Dempsey is the “lion comique,” Charlie Johnson, with Miss Madge Douglas as his music hall partner, Liz. Miss Carlotta de Yonson, a nom de theatre which is not calculated to add to her reputation, is judiciously passionate and pathetic by turns; Mr Charles Harley is the personification of a swell mobsman; and Mr Frank Vincent is a manly John Biddlecombe, the large-hearted yeoman.
Alone in London after the Olympic - continued
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