11. Lady Clare (1883) - continued
The Liverpool Mercury (16 October, 1883 - p.6)
PRINCE OF WALES THEATRE.
It is hard to believe that a man of the eminence of Robert Buchanan should commit his reputation to so feeble a play as “Lady Clare.” An explanation may perhaps be found in the fact that he is ambitious of distinction in a domain in which a greater than he has failed. The drama presented at the Prince of Wales Theatre last night for the first time in Liverpool will not help towards the accomplishment of his aim. “Lady Clare,” in fact, is a combination of incidents gathered from many sources, and though the materials are disposed in a manner that suggests skill in consecutive arrangement, the mode and tone of the play seem to indicate that the author or rather compiler is in danger of becoming a dramatic hack. As the piece progressed last night the audience recognised numerous points which had occurred not only in novels which they had read, but in plays which they had seen, the inspiration in the case of both novels and plays being French. The characterisation is conventional, and the treatment of most of the parts by Miss Marie de Grey’s company equally so. A dissolute member of the British aristocracy, a virtuous but wealthy manufacturer, also British, an American millionaire of impossible vulgarity, and a Frenchman and an Irishman who mutilate the English language to prove their respective nationalities, are of the group which composes a picture in which modern society is said to be reflected. Mr. Felix Pitt, who comes of a family honourably connected with the stage, gave an impersonation of John Middleton whose effect lay in the restraint of emotional force; and the Gould Smale of Mr. W. Farren jun., though framed in obedience to impudent caricature, offered features of excellence in acting. Miss De Grey, whose costumes—no unimportant accessories to such a character as Lady Clare—were rich in colour and design, played self-consciously but with some degree of intention. Other parts were assumed with more or less success by Miss B. Huntley, Mrs. Digby Willoughby, Miss Adelaide Calvert, Miss Deby, Mrs. Ernest Clifton, Mr. Fred Terry, Mr. E. Underhill, and Mr. F. Mouillot. “Lady Clare” is to be repeated this evening and on Wednesday and Thursday. The piece announced for Friday and Saturday evenings is “Woman against Woman,” and there is to be a performance of “Romeo and Juliet” on Saturday afternoon. Following the termination of the engagement of Miss de Grey, comes “Iolanthe.” Gilbert’s searching wit and Sullivan’s pleasing music will again bring crowded audiences to Mr. Emery’s theatre.
Sunderland Daily Echo (26 November, 1883)
POET AND PLAYWRIGHT.—The combination of the two distinct functions of poet and playwright, although not always attended with happy results, is becoming increasingly common. It will be fresh in the recollection of most readers how completely the Laureate has failed as a dramatist, by reason of his plays, while rich in poetic feeling, lacking the peculiar qualities essential to stage success. Another well-known but less distinguished poet of our time, Robert Buchanan, author of “White Rose and Red” and many other volumes of poetry and fiction, has, however, after repeated endeavours, succeeded where Mr Tennyson failed. One of Buchanan’s dramas, “A Sailor and his Lass,” is now running at Drury-lane Theatre, and another, “Lady Clare,” which was produced there a short time since, is being played in the provinces by a company specially organised by Mr Augustus Harris. The company visits Sunderland this week, and opens this evening at the Theatre Royal. Those who have read the author’s poems and stories will doubtless feel a special interest in the performance of “Lady Clare.”
Sunderland Daily Echo (27 November, 1883 - p.3)
“LADY CLARE” AT THE THEATRE ROYAL.
Mr Augustus Harris’s company last evening entered on a six nights’ engagement at the above house, when the new society drama entitled “Lady Clare” was produced. The piece is from the pen of Mr Robert Buchanan, and is a work of much merit. It has been favourably received in London and in the large provincial towns. The story of the play shows that Lord Ambermere (Mr Augustus Cook) is engaged to Lady Clare (Miss Kate Pattison), but he breaks his vows and marries a rich American lady, Melissa Smale (Miss May Howard). Lady Clare becomes the wife of John Middleton (Mr W. R. Sutherland), but an estrangement arises between them. The characters are all brought together in Dieppe, and Lord Ambermere, an accomplished duellist, insults John Middleton, and challenges him to fight. The offer is accepted, and the parties meet, but when they are about to fire, “Lady Clare” rushes between them and is shot in the arm by “Lord Ambermere.” In the next scene a reconciliation is effected between “Lady Clare” and her husband. The scenic effects in the play are extremely pretty, and were loudly applauded by the audience, while the principal members of the company were called before the curtain several times. Miss Daisy England, and Miss Carmen Barker, as the “Hon. Cecil Brookfield,” and “Mary Middleton,” acted well, and Mr Harry Parker ably sustained the part of “Mr Gould and Smale.” The other artistes were also good in their different characters.
The Edinburgh Evening News (28 November, 1883 - p.2)
“LADY CLARE” AT THE THEATRE-ROYAL.
At the Theatre-Royal last evening the Edinburgh public, who were last week introduced to Mr Robert Buchanan’s drama “Storm Beaten,” were afforded a second opportunity of judging of that dramatist’s merits in “Lady Clare,” produced for the first time in Edinburgh by Miss Marie de Grey and company. “Lady Clare” does not possess the same amount of quasi-originality as is shown in various scenes of “Storm Beaten.” As regards originality, indeed, its claims are exceedingly small. The plot forcibly reminds one of that of Mr Albery’s adaptation from Mr Bronson Howard—“The Old Love and the New.” In both we have a woman allying herself with a man for whom she has no affection, but whom she eventually learns to love. As in “The Old Love,” the husband is engaged in commerce, while in “Lady Clare” the situation is strengthened by the lady being of noble birth. Further resemblances are found in the duel between the husband and a former admirer of his wife, and in the introduction of the Yankee element, which is common to both pieces. The close of the second act also strikingly recalls the well-known scene in the “Lady of Lyons” in which Pauline learns the cruel deception to which she has been subjected. The harsh and unyielding character of the husband further awakens reminiscences of M. Sardou’s “Odette.” Despite these coincidences, however, Mr Buchanan has produced a piece which affords good scope for emotional acting. If he can only enforce the truth of the old adage as to the folly of marrying in haste, he at least does so in an effective way. Miss De Grey’s impersonation of the heroine last evening was highly artistic and intelligent. It is to be regretted that she did not receive more efficient support in the part of John Middleton, undertaken by Mr F. Pitt, who was greatly wanting in animation. The remaining characters were very capably filled. Miss Deby gave an attractive reading of the part of the unruly boy-lover, the Hon. Cecil Brookfield, while Miss Montrose duly emphasised the unamiable traits in the character of Melissa Smale. Mr Fred Terry was very successful in the ungrateful part of Lord Ambermere, while Mr Farren, junior, gave an effective picture of an American millionaire. The somewhat sombre colouring of Mr Buchanan’s drama was agreeably relieved by the brief love-passages between Mary Middleton and the Hon. Cecil Brookfield. “Lady Clare” was preceded by the new comedietta entitled, “An Eye to Business.”
The Manchester Weekly Times (15 December, 1883 - p.6)
. . .
“Lady Clare,” presented on Thursday for the first time to a Manchester audience by Miss de Grey and her company, is one of those compositions that recall to the mind of the habitual playgoer reminiscences of a number of the plays he has seen in times gone by. Mr. Robert Buchanan, who is the dramatist, has given his creations good and even poetic lines. The literary merits of the piece are above the average. It must be confessed, however, that the story is a curious example of fine spinning, and the incidents are frequently suggesting to one some such question as “Now, in what French play have I seen a situation like that.” Miss de Grey plays admirably, but still with greater force in the passages which approach light comedy than in those which require the expression of passion. Mr. Felix Pitt has a difficult part as the impossibly virtuous manufacturer; but he acquits himself well. Mr. Fred Terry as Lord Ambermere, Mr. W. Farren, jun., as Mr. Smale, Mr. Underhill as Count Legrange, and Mrs. Ernest Clifton as the Countess of Broadmeads are among the other noteworthy performers. One part, played with considerable promise, will have an especial interest for old Manchester playgoers. It is that of Mary Middleton by Miss Adelaide Calvert.
The New York Times (14 February, 1884)
This play—which is described on the bills as Mr. Robert Buchanan’s exquisite drama in five acts—was given last night at Wallack’s Theatre. The house was full, there was generous applause, and the new play was undoubtedly successful. Mr. Buchanan’s “Lady Clare” had been acted previously in England, and with encouraging effect. Mr. Buchanan—who, at his best, is a strong poet—has not been known here overmuch as a dramatist. His plays have seemed, for the most part, useless and uninteresting. “Storm Beaten,” as an example, was in no way a sound or true work, though it was one of the few tolerably popular plays elucidated for the public mind by Mr. Buchanan. Fortunately, “Storm Beaten” was considerably changed, not to say repressed, before it was launched upon the troublesome seas of the American stage. As to “Lady Clare”—what shall be said of that? M. Georges Ohnet, a bright and inventive French novelist, declared not long ago that Mr. Buchanan had stolen, for the benefit of his drama, a novel written by M. Ohnet and called “Le Maître de Forges.” Mr. Buchanan replied that he had not adapted “Maître de Forges,” he had merely made use of the motive in M. Ohnet’s novel. The distinction is remarkably lucid, especially for a poet. It may be explained that an American arrangement of “Le Maître de Forges” has been prepared already, and that other adaptations of the same work are to be set forward. M. Ohnet’s dramatization of his own novel has been a brilliant success in Paris.
The French novel is written with thought and spirit. It is sympathetic without being unpleasantly sentimental. It is certainly dramatic. The story which is presented by it is this: Claire de Beaulieu loves her cousin, the young Duc de Bligny. This lively fellow goes to Russia, forgets his fiancé, and returns to Paris at a moment when he learns that Claire is betrothed to M. Darblay, who is the “maître de forges,” the person without family and with a good amount of culture. Darblay is not loved by his wife at first, and Claire is still inclined to adore M. de Bligny. In the end, however, after the usual vicissitudes of human passion, Claire discovers that her feeling for Darblay is love, and that her feeling for M. de Bligny is contempt. This is, naturally, a very slight sketch of M. Ohnet’s complex and carefully elaborated novel.
Mr. Buchanan has declared that his play “Lady Clare” is not an adaptation of “Le Maître de Forges.” The story of “Lady Clare” informs us that Lord Ambermere loves Lady Clare Brookfield. Then, in his youthful enthusiasm, he deserts her and flies to pastures new. That is to say, he takes up another woman. Thereupon Lady Clare engages herself to John Middleton, a “self-made man.” But Lady Clare is not devoted to her self-made man. He finds himself tied to a loveless wife. After a while, however, she begins to have an agreeable opinion upon the merits of poor Middleton. Then Ambermere turns up again. He professes deep and Stygian devotion for Clare. There is a duel between the two men. Clare is shot in the shoulder. She rises from her ashes, a passionate Phœnix, and throws her arms about the neck of Middleton, who, having discovered, by judicious eavesdropping, that Clare is in love with her husband, not with Ambermere, rushes to her with theatrical celerity.
The play is told with a fair amount of ability, and is entertaining. It was, as we have said, successful last night. Yet it is somewhat doubtful—the reader is asked to consider the subject in his own judgment —whether Mr. Buchanan’s drama is not a frank adaptation of “Le Maître de Forges.”
Some excellent acting was done by Mr. Tearle, Miss Coghlan, Mr. Glenney, Mr. Buckstone, and Miss Measor. But Mr. Glenney might be less explosive in his speech.
The Boston Daily Globe (14 February, 1884)
A HIT AT LAST AT WALLACK’S.
Buchanan’s “Lady Clare” a Pronounced Success—
Coghlan and Tearle Do Fine Work.
[Special Despatch to The Boston Globe.]
NEW YORK, February 13.—A new play, “Lady Clare,” by Robert Buchanan, was produced tonight at Wallack’s Theatre with great success. Its success was due mainly to the extreme beauty of the scenery, and the fine acting of Rose Coghlan and Osmond Tearle, the one so intense, the other so passionate and manly, and both so vigorous and brilliant. In itself the play is thin as to plot and rather trite as to incident, and it will be regarded rather as the literary framework of a romantic and fanciful story than as the dramatic reflex of actual or possible social life. Lady Clare in this drama, because she has been jilted by the man whom she loves, and is taunted by her rival, gives her hand to a man whom she does not love, and becomes his wife On their return from the church she tells him this truth, and he is overwhelmed by it. But he insists on like obedience, although he must forego like affections. This makes a strong scene. They are to dwell beneath the same roof, but they are to be strangers. A little later there is a meeting between the wife and the truant lover, and a subsequent quarrel between the two men. This results in a duel, but when this is fought, the wife rushes between the contestants and receives in her shoulder the bullet that else would have sped to her husband’s heart. When she recovers from this wound they are reconciled. But as it is evident before the duel that they love each other, the wife has cast away her earlier passion and imbibed a new one, which seems no adequate reason for this catastrophe. The outcome of it all, however, is a series of situations neither novel nor very striking, in the course of which, however, there is room for strong display of elemental emotion, and pretext for powerful acting. A neat thread of light comedy, domestic in character, is twisted with the darker strand of amatory passion, and misery at last relieved by mutual confession and fond agreement. Miss Coghlan and Mr. Tearle are suited to an extraordinary degree in Lady Clare and John Middleton. The mien and conversation of noble English ladies are considerably caricatured in some of the dialogue, but the topic of the play, the death of one love and the birth of another in a woman’s heart, shown under most dramatic conditions and illustrated with fire and sincerity, will suffice to make “Lady Clare” a success with this public, as it has been with that of London. Miss Coghlan and Mr. Tearle were repeatedly called before the curtain.
Brooklyn Eagle (17 February, 1884 - p.3)
MR. WALLACK’S son Arthur and Mr. Wallack’s treasurer, Mr. Theodore Moss, resolved when “the Governor” went South that they would show him he had been mistaken in the policy he was pursuing at Wallack’s Theater, and that they could produce a success there. They have done so. “Lady Claire” is the solitary success at Wallack’s this year. It has caught the public fancy and is doing an immense business. It is a powerful melodrama by Robert Buchanan, and portrays the life of some members of the British aristocracy whose characters are cleanly drawn, well defined and in two instances quite original. Both Miss Coghlan and Mr. Tearle have at least been thoroughly suited. Tearle is doing the best work that he has done since he has been in America, but Miss Coghlan is after all the star of the cast. The story is a simple one, so far as the plot is concerned, but in the delineation of the character of Lady Claire, Miss Coghlan displays extraordinary intelligence and an amount of finesse and care in her work which places the character far above any other that she has essayed of recent years. She marries the man she does not love through pique, and then gradually shows on the stage how the kindness, delicacy and love of her husband in time win her over to him and destroy a foolish passion that she had for a profligate nobleman. The play is well mounted and carefully acted, and it all serves merely to enhance the value and beauty of Miss Coghlan’s performance.
Pall Mall Gazette (20 February, 1884 - p.4)
A curious illustration of the perplexity of the law of copyright will be afforded when M. Ohnet’s dramatic version of his “Maître de Forges” is produced at the St. James’s Theatre. The case briefly put is this:—M. Ohnet wrote a novel called “Le Maître de Forges,” and published it in the Figaro, intending, as every one knew, to dramatize his creation for his own use and purpose. But before he could do so, Mr. Robert Buchanan took M. Ohnet’s book and dramatized it as “Lady Clare.” Messrs. Hare and Kendal having purchased M. Ohnet’s play from him, it will no doubt be open to Mr. Buchanan to claim his English rights over a story that he admittedly appropriated without permission from its author, and according to precedent the law would be bound to pronounce in favour of Mr. Buchanan. And how will the case stand in America, where Mr. Wallack has purchased “Lady Clare” from Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Eric Bayley has bought M. Ohnet’s play from its author?
The Stage (22 February, 1884 - p.13)
Robert Buchanan has sold Lady Clare to Wallack, and Eric Bayley has bought the rights of Le Maître de Forges from Ohnet for the American Continent. Wallack in his innocence has only just discovered that Lady Clare is taken from Ohnet’s story. At this exact moment Wallack does not precisely love Robert Buchanan—indeed, he desires to “get at him.”
The London Magpie (1 March, 1884 - p.9)
A nice complication has arisen out of M. Ohnet’s Maitre de Forges. When he wrote the novel, and published it in the Figaro, he meant to dramatise it for his own purposes. But before he had time to do so, Mr. Robert Buchanan dramatised it as Lady Clare. M. Ohnet having produced his own dramatic version, the American rights of it were recently bought by Eric Bayley. Wallack in the meantime secured Lady Clare from Mr. Buchanan, quite unaware of the real origin of the piece. Messrs. Wallack and Bayley consequently find themselves to all intents and purposes the happy possessors of the same piece.
Mr. Robert Buchanan in the Pall Mall Gazette, disclaims all knowledge of M. Ohnet’s intention to dramatise his own novel. This is an excuse for ever having written Lady Clare, but I doubt if Wallack will accept it as a reason for selling the play to him.
The Theatre (1 March, 1884)
The moral vision of Mr. Robert Buchanan is temporarily obscured. He defends the indefensible action of helping himself to the story of Georges Ohnet for dramatic purposes on the plea that he did not know that the author of “Le Maitre de Forges” wanted his own property, and was not anxious to make it a present to Mr. Robert Buchanan. He did not know it, because he did not apparently want to be enlightened to the contrary. The expenditure of twopence-halfpenny on a postage stamp for France would have cleared up any doubt on the matter, and assured Mr. Buchanan whether the reports in the Parisian papers were true or false. On the very night that “Lady Clare” was produced at the Globe Theatre it was as well known in London as it was known in Paris that the dramatic version of “Le Maitre de Forges” by Ohnet was not only written but accepted and in rehearsal at the Gymnase Theatre. If there were dramatic critics present who were ignorant of the origin of “Lady Clare,” and ascribed it to Belot and not to Ohnet, the fault rested with Mr. Robert Buchanan, who was bound by every principle of courtesy and good taste to declare where the play came from, and not compel the critics to ferret it out for themselves and lay a bill of indictment against the borrower. The very next morning all London knew that “Lady Clare” was not an original play. The very next morning Mr. Buchanan was challenged to say whether “Lady Clare” was or was not the story of “Le Maitre de Forges,” taken with or without authority but without acknowledgment. It will be for Messrs. Hare and Kendal, in England, and for Mr. Wallack, in America, to say how far they have suffered from the prior production of “Lady Clare.” My own opinion is that they will not suffer in the least, because Ohnet has treated his work like a dramatist. What Ohnet thinks of Mr. Buchanan and his works will be found in The Era, the organ to which Mr. Robert Buchanan is in the habit of appealing when he desires to impeach the honour of his contemporaries. If I were to turn to one of the many excellent novels of Mr. Robert Buchanan and to help myself to one of his plots in order to make a play out of it, as I should have a perfect right to do according to our iniquitous law, I should consider that I had done Mr. Buchanan a great wrong, and so would he! I hold that a man’s literary invention is a man’s absolute property, and the borrowing does not become less shabby because it is perpetrated on a Frenchman whose dramatic work in this country has a marketable value.
The Edinburgh Courant (11 March, 1884 - p.2)
AT THE ROYAL LYCEUM THEATRE.
Mr Augustus Harris’s company, in paying a return visit to this city, elected to appear last night in the new five-act drama “Lady Clare,” written by Mr Robert Buchanan. It is not the first time that this play has been submitted for the approval of the Edinburgh theatre-going public, Miss Genevieve Ward’s company having represented it at the Theatre Royal in the autumn. The company at the Lyceum last night was identically the same as that which gained such high encomiums but the other day for the way in which “Pluck” was enacted on the same boards, and their efforts last night only tended to increase the admiration at the manner in which one and all sustained their parts. Mrs Digby Willoughby as “Lady Clare” is the principal character in the drama—a trying rôle from beginning to end, and one which never finds her at a loss adequately to interpret. She was no less effective in the scene where, immediately after her marriage, she repents the steps she has taken, and tells her husband that she does not love him, than in that where, although she yearns to ask her husband’s forgiveness for the attitude she has taken, yet maintains an unbending demeanour because her husband has twitted her with a lingering love for her cousin, Lord Ambermere, who threw her off for a monied marriage. Miss May Howard’s rendering of Melissa Smale, the millionaire’s daughter—a cool, calculating woman, full of passionless hatred, who marries Lady Clare’s lover simply for the purpose of gloating over the lady’s disappointment, and then does her best to put harm between her and her husband, John Middleton—is a perfect study of dramatic power. Mr W. R. Sutherland takes the part of the highly virtuous John Middleton, who has married Lady Clare from sincere love, but who, when he finds his love unrequited, shows to her a cold demeanour, and exacts from her implicit obedience. His acting was marked by a studied carefulness, which suited the character well. Mr Augustus Cook as Lord Ambermere made a successful example of the aristocratic fast young man, and Miss Daisy England as the Hon. Cecil Brookfield, and Miss Carmen Barker as Mary Middleton infused a good deal of liveliness into the play. Mr A. C. Lilly was also most successful as Mr Gould Smale, the Yankee millionaire. The play was exceedingly well mounted. “Lady Clare” will be withdrawn at the end of the present week.
The Edinburgh Evening News (11 March, 1884 - p.2)
“LADY CLARE” AT THE ROYAL LYCEUM THEATRE.
It must be confessed, in view of the reception given last night by an Edinburgh audience to Mr Robert Buchanan’s “Lady Clare,” that that poet is not altogether unjustified in turning his powers, as he has done in his more recent plays, to the manufacture of the cheapest type of sensational drama. The latter is apparently the article chiefly in demand among his countrymen. “Lady Clare,” it is true, will not stand being tried by the highest standard. The motive certainly is strong, and the construction really effective; but almost every character is to some extent overdrawn. The heroine is at first impossibly haughty, her husband is quite impossibly naïf, her mother impossibly full of caste-pride; and the American father and daughter are just as impossible, both in their stage Yankeeism and the latter in her vulgarity and heartlessness. But, melodrama as it is made under the management of Mr Augustus Harris, “Lady Clare” is yet on an altogether higher plane than the two compositions of Mr Buchanan already presented to Edinburgh playgoers, and if he had never stooped to lower work he would have deserved well of the lovers of art. As before remarked, however, he has no great encouragement. A singularly tasteless audience not only gave a dull reception to the strongest situations in “Lady Clare,” but was utterly blind to the merit of a piece of acting of the very highest order. Mrs Digby Willoughby’s playing as Lady Clare is the finest performance that has been seen in an Edinburgh theatre for many a day. That lady, it may be remembered, appeared in an unusually good cast in “The Cynic” at the Edinburgh princess’ Theatre in the summer of ’82. Her performance then, though noticeably good, could hardly be said to indicate the gifts and powers she now displays. Those competent to judge who heard her last night realised that she possesses a voice unequalled on the British stage for purity and delicately sympathetic quality. Merely to hear such a voice on the stage is a unique satisfaction; to find it along with remarkable powers of facial expression is a further pleasure; and to find it employed with the rarest artistic instinct and skill is an experience especially enjoyable. It is hardly possible to overrate the promise of this actress. Somewhat unpromisingly insouciant last night in the opening scene—in which, indeed, she gave an impression of physical weakness—she began, though still in a rather subdued fashion, to show an uncommonly true conception of natural expression on the first occasion for an exhibition of feeling; and before the first act was closed the impression of her powers was decisive. Still, however, it was impossible to anticipate what was to come; and it may be said, in brief, that her rendering of widely-varying passion and emotion in the second, third, fourth, and fifth acts was of a kind which no living English actress could have excelled. It is casting no slight on Mrs Kendal’s splendid and manifold powers to say that even she could hardly have achieved the exquisitely poignant pathos, or rivalled the noiseless intensity of Mrs Willoughby’s tones. In the last act, in which her slight physique accorded specially well with the situation, Lady Clare now being just convalescent from a pistol wound, her rendering of tremulous yearning and hopeless grief was above all praise—some of her “business” being quite indescribably moving; and her delivery of an impassioned repudiation of the scoundrelly lover’s solicitations was no less keenly effective, admirably free as it was from the least suggestion of theatrical loudness. The only positive fault discoverable in Mrs Willoughby’s performance is an occasional slight indistinctness in articulation. It will be to the discredit of Edinburgh culture if such work does not during the week attract more intelligent audiences than that of last night, portions of which giggled over serious situations, and which as a whole were chiefly demonstrative in hissing the villain and applauding hackneyed touches in the rhetoric. It is hardly necessary to say that Mrs Willoughby’s acting stands quite out from that of her coadjutors. Miss Carmen Barker, indeed, put some very clever work into her part of Mary Middleton; Mr Pemberton was a surprisingly good family solicitor; Miss Daisy England played with spirit as Cecil Brookfield; and Miss Claremont as the Countess was very satisfactory in the last act; but there was more or less room for improvement in all these performances; and on the other hand Miss Mary Howard did little towards redeeming the thankless and crudely conceived part of Melissa Smale, while Mr Lilly did even less than justice to that of the father; and Miss Thompson showed a somewhat plentiful lack of judgment as the housekeeper. The villain, too, was over-loudly though not ineffectively played by Mr Augustus Cook; and Mr W. R. Sutherland’s gentlemanly but characterless impersonation of the hero at times created a sensation as of sounding brass beside the delicate work of Mrs Willoughby. The management of the orchestra, it should be said, does little credit at present to the theatre.
The Stage (28 March, 1884 - p.13)
At about a week after Easter the public will be summoned to the St. James’s Theatre to see Ohnet’s version of his play Le Maitre de Forges, which has obtained an enormous success at the Gymnase Theatre in Paris. Prior to the production of the authorised play a dramatic version of Ohnet’s story was given at the Globe by Robert Buchanan, called Lady Clare. But this fact will scarcely interfere with the success of A Midnight Marriage, in which the locale, character, and incidents of a story essentially French are faithfully preserved. The cast will be as follows:—Claire, Mrs. Kendal; La Marquise de Beaupré, Mrs. Gaston Murray; Athenaïs, Miss Vane; La Baronne, Miss Linda Dietz; Le Duc de Bligny, Mr. Henley; Le Marquis de Beaupré, Mr. George Alexander; Moulenet, Mr. J. F. Young; Bechelin, Mr. Maclean; Le Baron de Préfont, Mr. Waring; Philippe Darblay, Mr. W. H. Kendal.
[Arthur Wing Pinero’s authorised adaptation of Georges Ohnet’s play, Le Maître de Forges, with the title The Ironmaster, opened on 17th April, 1884 at the St. James’s Theatre, starring Mr. and Mrs. Kendal. Reviews of the first night of The Ironmaster are available on a separate page, for purposes of comparison. However, I thought the following extract from the review in The Era, should be included here.]
The Era (19 April, 1884)
. . .
We pass by the Lady Clare of Mr Robert Buchanan, because that gentleman, rightly or wrongly, claims for his piece the merit of almost entire originality; but we shall not pass it without saying that he did improve on the original, and that his impertinence—if impertinence it was—had good excuse. Admirable construction, vigorous dialogue without a shadow of coarseness, strong characterisation, sustained interest have all been claimed for Ohnet’s work; but we did not find them. The Ironmaster seemed to us a very gloomy and a very uninteresting piece, with sentiment that was strained and with situations that were unnatural, and that, but for the skill of the artists engaged, would have met with very severe condemnation. . . .
The Stage (25 July, 1884 - p.13)
On Thursday afternoon, July 11, 1884, Mrs. Digby Willoughby gave a matinée at this house. The principal piece presented was Lady Clare, Mr. Robert Buchanan’s adaptation of Mr. George Ohnet’s Le Maître de Forges, originally acted at the Globe Theatre on April 11 last. Mrs. Willoughby elected to appear as the heroine of the drama, a part not nearly so well suited to her personalities as that of Melissa Smale, the American heiress, which she pourtrayed in the Globe production. Her interpretation presented the character in a hard, cold, crude, and unsympathetic manner. There was little pathos in her acting, and the soft, womanly touches so necessary to enlist sympathy and arouse interest were entirely absent. Mrs. Willoughby was at her best in the more vigorous portions of the play, and her entrance in the duel scene was particularly dramatic. It was a dangerous experiment for a lady of Mrs. Willoughby’s standing in her profession, and of such limited experience, to follow so practised an artiste as Miss Ada Cavendish in a leading part, for in such a case comparisons are inevitable, and obviously must be a disadvantage to the least successful actress. On this occasion Mr. Alfred Bucklaw, as John Middleton, and Miss Carlotta Leclercq, as the Countess of Broadsmeads, resumed their original characters. Mr. Bucklaw, although suffering from a severe sprain to his ankle, played well, and gave a manly, earnest performance. Mr. Gould Smale, the American millionaire, was acted by Mr. W. Farren, jun., who gave a capital, well-considered sketch of character. Melissa Smale was represented by Miss Gladys Homfrey, who was scarcely successful in hitting off the peculiarities of the part. Mr. Fred Terry displayed considerable skill and rescource as Lord Ambermere. The two young people, the Hon. Cecil Brookfield and Mary Middleton, were represented by Miss J. Deby and Miss Carmen Barker respectively. Miss Deby was slow, dull, and monotonous when she should have been quick, bright, and animated, and she drawled her words in a most irritating manner. On the other hand, Miss Carmen Barker was singularly spirited as Mary Middleton, and she acted the part with a freshness and ingenuousness that were delightful. The minor parts were adequately filled. The drama was preceded by a new one-act comic opera, written by Mr. E. H. Gomm, with music by Mr. W. Fullerton. It was entitled The Miser, and, it was stated on the programmes, was produced under the direction of Mr. George Grossmith. It proved a weak and uninteresting piece of work. It related how a pair of lovers, being separated by a miserly father, are united by the aid of a good-natured aunt, who dresses as a ghost, and so frightens the old man into consenting to his daughter’s marriage. The piece does not excite much laughter, and the dialogue is by no means witty. Some of the music is pretty, and we noticed in particular a charming melody to the words “Storms may come and go,” sung by the daughter, who was pleasantly interpreted by Miss Victoria La Coste. Mr. W. Gregory appeared as the lover, and sang well, but his acting was indifferent. Mr. Fred Cape was the miser, and Miss Gladys Homfrey the aunt. Madame Sarah Bernhardt, together with her sister Jeanne and Mrs. Bernard-Beere, occupied a private box on the occasion, but the house presented an almost empty appearance.
The St. Paul Sunday Globe (27 July, 1884 - p.5)
The Wallack Engagement—“Lady Clare” and
“Moths” to be Given This Week.
The Wallack Theater company open a week’s engagement at the Grand to-morrow night, presenting for the first time in St. Paul the drama “Lady Clare” and “Moths,” the latter being an adaptation from Ouida’s powerful novel of that name. Both plays will be presented with the original castes and scenery, and no doubt the appearance of so celebrated a company will prove the dramatic event of the season in this city.
Robert Buchanan has given to the world several charming novels, such as “God and the Man,” “The New Abelard,” and others well known, but it has been acknowledged that his best literary effort is the charming domestic story “Lady Clare,” which has been on the boards of Wallack’s theatre for some time past in a dramatic form. The story of how Lady Clara Brookfield marries John Middleton, to spite her fiance Lord Ambermere, is told in an exquisite and interesting manner. The proud lady does not love her husband, who is only “A self-made man,” and acknowledges the fact to Middleton almost as soon as the marriage ceremony has been completed. He, smarting under the wrong, compels the high born Lady Clare to render him the obedience of a wife, and refuses to allow her to return to her former home. Middleton treats her with kindness and affection, but resolutely turns from any attempt to gain her love. He meets his rival at Dieppe, and after a quarrel provoked by Ambermere, consents to fight, and determines to allow his antagonist to kill him, but Clare frustrates his intention by rushing on the field, and receiving the shot from Lord Ambermere’s weapon. The play is brought to a happy ending by the union of man and wife. Lady Clare found that a true heart was worth more than all the happiness that wealth could purchase. The drama will be presented in this city with the entire Wallack company and scenery, under the management of Gustave and Charles Frohman, as played at Wallack’s theatre in New York for nearly one hundred nights.
The St. Paul Daily Globe (29 July, 1884 - p.4)
Opening Night of the Wallack Theater Company.
The engagement of the Wallack Theater company opened at the Grand Opera house last night in Robert Buchanan’s domestic drama of “Lady Clare.” Several versions, it is understood, of the same drama are being performed by as many different companies, but as presented last night, the drama was originally performed by the Wallack company in New York, the cast being materially the same. The story of the play was furnished the readers of the GLOBE last Sunday, and it may be said imprimis that the version now being performed in this city is by all odds the most entertaining and superior representation.
It was the inaugural night of the Wallack engagement in St. Paul, and while the audience was quite large and appreciative to the verge of enthusiasm, there was observed a notable absence of many of the constant habitutes and amusement patrons of the house. The fact that the season is at its height at the lakes may have partially accounted for this, and as good things should never go a begging, especially in the dramatic line, the attendance will no doubt increase to the limit of managerial expectation, which indeed the play is well worthy of.
“Lady Clare” has been universally commended as a charming drama by the eastern press and public, and the phrase is not a misnomer. It rounds out the measure of anticipation both as to the plot and the finished manner of its presentation. There is a subdued harmony about the play, a freedom from rant, an artistic symmetry, fulfilment of details and beauty of arrangement that go to make up the complete artistic impersonation.
Opinions may differ as to the style an actor or artist assumes in expressing a thought or delineating an action, passion or sentiment. Sometimes the power is conveyed in a gesture, or a loud or finely modulated tone; sometimes it is conveyed by the glance of the eye or the curve of the lips, but perfect acting comes only with the blending of all these into repose. The works of nature are all easy, paradoxical as it may seem, and the thunderbolt falls as easily from the frowning face of Jove as falls the snowflake or the dewdrop.
The acting of Oscar Teazle, as John Middleton, is easy, graceful and marked by dramatic force and fervor. The role of Lady Clare by Mrs. Eyre is a difficult one to enact. The force required is powerful but subdued and intense. Her impersonation was finished and pleasing. Her voice is not always impassioned but this may come from the stony requirements of the part. Her face also, it seems, is too round at times, to acutely depict the poignant pangs of anguish and sorrow. But in watching her one loses these first impressions and the quiet face lights up and the tones quiver with passion. The delightfully refreshing roles are taken by Mr. Buckstone and Adele Mearor. Both are juvenile parts and they are taken with an archness and naivetie that always captivates. Mr. Glenny, as the degenerate nobleman and roue was clever and the roles taken by Gleason, Gwynette, Germon and Edwin were all well enacted. Mrs. Sol Smith was splendid as the countess, and Melissa Small, who ruins Lord Ambermere with her money and then gloats over the discomfiture of Lady Clare, by Miss Livingston, is superbly done. In short the cast is finished and fine throughout.
There were several re-calls last evening, and the audience manifested their pleasure by bestowing liberal applause.
In this version the duel scene is really enacted, and the juncture where Lady Clare rushes in and received the shot intended for her estranged husband, is very affecting.
The same programme to-night.
The Nottingham Evening Post (6 September, 1884 - p.2)
Miss Ada Cavendish last night took the leading part in the first representation in Nottingham of Mr. Robert Buchanan’s drama “Lady Clare,” which is founded on “Le Mâitre des Forges,” a work that has also been successfully dramatised under the title of “The Ironmaster.” There was a full house to witness this important performance, and the utmost interest was manifested in this new part of Miss Cavendish’s. The play, like its French original, abounds in highly dramatic situations, and the plot is of a very romantic kind. The Lady Clare (Miss Cavendish) is practically, though not formally, engaged to her cousin, Lord Ambermere, whom she loves intensely. The nobleman, however, having ruined himself by betting, seeks to retrieve his fortune by an alliance with Melissa Smale, the daughter of an American millionaire. From pique at this act Lady Clare consents to marry John Middleton, a wealthy manufacturer, whose hand she had previously rejected. After marriage, however, she finds and confesses that she cannot love him, and that her heart is still her cousin’s. Middleton behaves with forbearance and generosity, only asking of the lady that she stay in his house as its nominal mistress, to save public scandal. The scene then shifts to a French watering-place, where the parties are staying. Lord Ambermere, after gaining an interview with his cousin against her will, insults her husband, with a view of forcing him to a duel. The young nobleman is an accomplished duellist, whilst the manufacturer is utterly inexperienced with weapons. His life is saved by Lady Clare flinging herself between the combatants and receiving in her shoulder the shot intended for her husband’s heart. The husband, however, believes that his wife’s purpose was to save her cousin’s life, until, in a very powerful final scene, the Lady Clare tells her cousin, who follows her to her husband’s house, that her object was to save Mr. Middleton, which expression the latter overhears, and a suitable climax is reached. The dramatic powers of Miss Ada Cavendish are seen to great advantage in the development of so romantic a plot, and neither in breadth of handling nor gentleness of touch does the part lack aught in her hands. She is perhaps hardly so well supported on the whole as in “The New Magdalen.” Mr. C. P. Forester’s Ambermere is not altogether satisfactory. The Middleton of Mr. Mark Quinton is a studied performance, but the Mr. Gould Smale of Mr. W. Guise is a mere parody of Yankee manners, and the other characters are very sketchy. Mr. W. T. Elworthy as the Hon. Cecil Brookfield, and Miss Marion Forbes as Mary Middleton supply an agreeable relief to the sombre colours of the chief plot, in the character of a pair of young lovers; while Miss Gladys Homfrey displays much talent as Melissa Smale, and Miss Rose Roberts sufficiently represents the Countess of Broadmeads. The play is to be repeated to-night, and all who desire another opportunity of witnessing Miss Cavendish’s skill in the delineation of human passions should not miss this performance. Next week, we may add, the boards will be occupied by Miss Kate Vaughan and an able company, when The Country Girl and one or two burlesques will be produced.
Otago Daily Times (New Zealand) (27 December, 1884 - p.2)
THE DRAMA IN AUSTRALIA
NOTES BY SCALFAX
MELBOURNE, December 8
. . .
A well-filled house greeted Miss Marie de Grey and her company on their appearance on Saturday night in Robert Buchanan’s adaptation of Georges Ohnet’s well-known story, “Le Maitre de Forges,” known as “Lady Clare.” This “new drama of modern society” was first produced at the Globe Theatre, London, on Wednesday, April 11, 1883, and a storm of indignant protests against the adaptation soon came upon the distinguished author. Mr Buchanan, like the late Charles Reade, wields a very cudgel of a pen, and some very severe things were said on both sides. The chief complaint was that Mr Buchanan had not acknowledged the source of his play, and had made the adaptation, knowing full well that the original author was then engaged in preparing a dramatic version of his novel. On Thursday, April 17, 1884, the Kendals produced at St. James’s Theatre, an authorised adaptation by Mr A. W. Pinero of M. Ohnet’s drama, “Le Maitre de Forges,” under the name of “The Ironmaster,” which was, and is, as successful as “Lady Clare” was unfortunate.
The plot cannot boast of any great originality, and may be summarised thus:—Lady Clare Brookfield is in love with a certain Lord Ambermere, and her love is returned. John Middleton, a wealthy manufacturer, also loves Lady Clare, but is refused by her. Lord Ambermere loses his fortune and marries a wealthy American girl, Melissa Small. Lady Clare, in a moment of pique, marries Middleton. The second act proves that the marriage was unfortunate, and Lady Clare and Middleton agree to live as man and wife in appearance only. In the third act we are at Dieppe, and find Lord Ambermere, who does not love his wife, making love to Lady Clare. Middleton interrupts an interview, takes in the situation, and arranges a duel. The fourth act shows first, how Lady Clare finds that her husband is going to fight Lord Ambermere; and secondly, the duel, when Lady Clare rushes between the combatants, to save Middleton, whom she finds she loves, and gets wounded in the shoulder. The last act shows how Lady Clare suffers for love of her husband, how the wicked lord again avows his love, which is met with scorn, how Middleton overhears the interview, runs the wicked lord off the premises, and how husband and wife are once more united. Miss Marie de Grey tries hard to make a success of the part of Lady Clare, and must be credited with much enthusiastic appreciation on the part of the audience. She has to suffer from the inadequate representation of some of the other parts, but makes a decided and clever bid for success. Miss Florence Cowell, as Melissa Small, is as capable and satisfactory as this lady generally is. Mr Alex. Mayne, who was only known here as a reader, but who, I told you, played some time ago in Dublin, with Miss De Grey, makes a fair Middleton. He speaks well but acts badly. Mr Morton Salten was an unequal and unsatisfactory Lord Ambermere; and Mr Brodie was a laughable Hon. Cecil Brookfield. He can read that any way he likes. “Lady Clare” is promised for the whole of next week.
The New York Times (4 January, 1885)
The little difficulty between Mr. Mallory, of the Madison-Square, and Mr. H. M. Pitt, whose salary it was sought to reduce, has been amicably adjusted, and the actor retains his post in the company. This week Mr. Pitt is loaned to Mr. Frohman for the “Lady Clare” engagement at Niblo’s, and he will for the first time undertake to be sentimental in a leading and lachrymose rôle. Mr. Pitt has hitherto flourished chiefly as a performer of characters of the sluggish and lackadaisical kind. The other item of interest in connection with the “Lady Clare” production is in the statement that Miss Harriet Jay will appear in masculine attire in the part played at Mr. Wallack’s theatre by young Mr. Buckstone. It is reported that when it was decided Miss Jay was to play the part she immediately sent all the way to London for the raiment in which she originally appeared in this character. It has hitherto been supposed that there were plenty of clothes in America.
The New York Times (6 January, 1885)
A company of competent actors and actresses appeared at Niblo’s Garden last night in “Lady Clare,” Robert Buchanan’s version of “Le Maitre des Forges.” Miss Cora Tanner, as Lady Clare, acted with grace, dignity, and earnestness. Mr. H. M. Pitt, as John Middleton, proved that, while he was not as much at home in a serious rôle as in a “character” part, he had sufficient power to hold the interest of the audience and in some scenes to awaken their hearty admiration. Lord Ambermere was played by Mr. Henry Aveling, an actor well qualified for the part. Miss Harriet Jay appeared as the Hon. Cecil Brookfield, originally played by her in London, and gave a charming performance. Mr. Max Freeman displayed his eccentric humor as Mr. Gould Smale, and Miss Louise Dillon was a petite and piquant Mary Middleton. The other parts were in good hands and the play moved with smoothness and good effect. The audience was large and the applause frequent. On Wednesday afternoon what is known as a “professional” matinée of “Lady Clare” will be given, to which all the members of the dramatic profession in town will be invited that they may witness Miss Jay’s performance of the Eton boy.
New-York Daily Tribune (6 January, 1885 - p.5)
Mr. Robert Buchanan’s play of “Lady Clare,” which the public received with considerable favor last season at Wallack’s Theatre, was revived last evening at Niblo’s Garden, and there represented with a good cast and good scenery—the principal characters being represented by Cora Tanner, Louisa Dillon, Flora Livingston, Kate Desin, Ellen Blaisdell, Harriet Jay, H. M. Pitt, Max Freeman, Robert Frazer, Henry Aveling and Frederick Cobett. Miss Harriet Jay played a boy, Hon. Cecil Brookfield. She was the original of this part when “Lady Clare” was first acted in London, and on account of much alleged professional interest in her performance of it the managers of Niblo’s Garden have invited the members of the dramatic profession to attend the matinée at their theatre on Wednesday.
The Daily Graphic (New York) (6 January, 1885)
“LADY CLARE” AT NIBLO’S GARDEN.
Niblo’s Garden was well filled last night by an appreciative audience. Mr. Robert Buchanan’s exquisite drama, “Lady Clare,” was presented under the management of Mr. Charles Frohman. The piece is one which has been seen several times in this city and had an extended run at Wallack’s Theatre some time since. The cast was not a particularly strong one, but some individual members gave effective impersonations. Miss Harriet Jay was admirable as the Hon. Cecil Brookfield, a character in which she achieved considerable success on “Lady Clare’s” original production in London. She dressed the part in excellent taste, and her acting showed her to be possessed of rare comedy talents. Miss Louise Dillon was charming as Mary Middleton and shared the honors with Miss Jay. Miss Cora Tanner was satisfactory as Lady Clare, although somewhat nervous at times. Mr. H. H. Pitt’s John Middleton was uninteresting and lacked force, Mr. Harry Avling failed to make anything of Lord Ambermere, and Mr. Max Freeman presented a Yorkshire gentleman with a German accent. The piece is booked for this week only.
The Evening Telegram (New York) (6 January, 1885 - p.2)
Niblo’s Garden—“Lady Clare.”
Mr. Robert Buchanan’s domestic drama, “Lady Clare,” was presented at Niblo’s Garden last evening, and, although there were occasional bits of good acting, the performance, as a whole, was uninteresting. It showed clearly that the success of the play when first produced at Wallack’s Theatre almost a year ago, was at least as much due to the excellence of the acting as to the merit of the drama. The interest of the play centres almost entirely in the two principal characters, John Middleton and Lady Clare, and requires that they should be impersonated by artists of strong emotional power. Mr. H. M. Pitt strove hard and conscientiously for success as John Middleton, but his extreme nervousness and odd manner of gesticulation rendered his impersonation barely endurable. Miss Cora Tanner made very little of the several strong situations which fall to the part of Lady Clare. Miss Harriet Jay appeared as Hon. Cecil Brookfield, which part was played by her at the presentation of the play in London. She made a good impression, and was recalled during the third act. Mr. Max Freeman excited some laughter as Mr. Gould Smale, and Miss Louise Dillon was well received as Mary Middleton.
New York Herald (6 January, 1885 - p.7)