Play List:

1. The Rath Boys

2. The Witchfinder

3. A Madcap Prince

4. Corinne

5. The Queen of Connaught

6. The Nine Days’ Queen

7. The Mormons

8. The Shadow of the Sword

9. Lucy Brandon

10. Storm-Beaten

11. Lady Clare

[Flowers of the Forest]

12. A Sailor and His Lass

13. Bachelors

14. Constance

15. Lottie

16. Agnes

17. Alone in London

18. Sophia

19. Fascination

20. The Blue Bells of Scotland

21. Partners

22. Joseph’s Sweetheart

23. That Doctor Cupid

24. Angelina!

25. The Old Home

26. A Man’s Shadow

27. Theodora

28. Man and the Woman

29. Clarissa

30. Miss Tomboy

31. The Bride of Love

32. Sweet Nancy

33. The English Rose

34. The Struggle for Life

35. The Sixth Commandment

36. Marmion

37. The Gifted Lady

38. The Trumpet Call

39. Squire Kate

40. The White Rose

41. The Lights of Home

42. The Black Domino

43. The Piper of Hamelin

44. The Charlatan

45. Dick Sheridan

46. A Society Butterfly

47. Lady Gladys

48. The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown

49. The Romance of the Shopwalker

50. The Wanderer from Venus

51. The Mariners of England

52. Two Little Maids from School

53. When Knights Were Bold


Short Plays

Other Plays

Buchanan’s Theatrical Ventures in America

Poetry Readings





The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law

The Critical Response
Harriett Jay

Site Diary
Site Search


11. Lady Clare (1883) - continued (ii)


New York Herald (6 January, 1885 - p.7)


New York Herald (7 January, 1885 - p.7)

     What is called a professional matinée of “Lady Clare” will be given at Niblo’s this afternoon. It has been arranged, so Manager Frohman says, for the convenience of professionals who have expressed a desire to see Miss Harriet Jay in knickerbockers.



The World (New York) (8 January, 1885)

     The common impression that Mr. Robert Buchanan or Miss Harriet Jay or both of them were responsible for the professional matinee given at Niblo’s Garden yesterday is erroneous. Miss Jay plays only a minor part in “Lady Clare” and has common sense enough to know that very little importance attaches to her performance. Mr. Buchanan probably has a higher opinion of Miss Jay’s abilities and accomplishments than any one else in America, but even he would hesitate to make his sister-in-law ridiculous by claiming for her present work enough prominence to warrant a general invitation to the profession to witness that work.
     The fact of the matter is that neither Miss Jay nor Mr. Buchanan had anything to do with this matinee. The idea eminated from the active brain of Mr. Charles Frohman, who thought that such a move would materially increase the receipts. That he was mistaken may be judged from Manager John Poole’s declaration to me that “though there were a great many people in the auditorium there was precious little money in the box-office.” As a consequence Mr. Poole was not particularly enthusiastic over Mr. Frohman’s brilliant scheme.



The Spirit of the Times (New York) (10 January, 1885)

     WE were puzzled as to why Miss Harriet Jay should be introduced to the profession at a special matinee of Lady Clancarty. Now we are puzzled as to why a professional matinee should be given, today, to display that lady as Cecil Brookfield in Lady Clare. There is nothing in Miss Jay’s acting to call for this extraordinary prominence. By no effort of genius can Cecil Brookfield be made a star part in Buchanan’s dramatization. The fact that Miss Jay is the sister-in-law of the dramatist can have nothing to do with it; for other dramatists have sisters-in-law who are not thus pushed upon an indifferent public. Poor Sothern used to get out posters starring unimportant members of his company, and representing them as humbly supported by Lord Dundreary; but he considered this a joke. It was a joke that hurt, and so those who are managing Miss Jay will find if they continue it. With all respect for a lady who is probably very nice and very clever in her way, we must say that Miss Harriet Jay is being rendered ridiculous—although we cannot excuse the unchivalric allusions of the Herald to her limbs and her knickerbockers.



The World (New York) (12 January, 1885 - p.5)


An English Actress and Her Opinion of
“Herald” Criticism.

To the Editor of The World:

     In the New York Herald of Tuesday last appeared a notice of my performance of the Hon. Cecil Brookfield in “Lady Clare,” written in a strain with which the readers of that newspaper are rapidly becoming familiar and revealing a kind of humor which, I hope for the honor of humanity, is not widely appreciated in America. The writer is a curious sample of a new system of journalism, and he deserves in that character an attention to which his personal insignificance gives him no pretense or claim.
     In a moment of inspiration, Mr. Bennett, of the Herald, conceived the idea of revolutionizing dramatic criticism. Instead of intrusting its discussion to grave and grown up critics, he determined to view the drama from the point of view of unclean-minded adolescence. With this view he selected from his staff the youngest, the most incompetent, and the most impudent of the office boys—cousin-german in age, experience, and spiteful propensities, to the printer’s devil; bought him a suit of clothes, gave him the entree to the theatres, and told him to “go ahead.” He did go ahead with a vengeance. He danced a “break-down” on Shakespeare’s grave; he voted Hamlet a “bore,” recommending Mr. Irving to expunge it from his repertoire. He threw mud at Mr. Wallack and the other reputable managers in New York. He filled the air with slang and cat-calls; he ridiculed every decent entertainment; but when the nude ladies of burlesque appeared before him he became loud in rapture, and in lieu of his derisive abuse proclaimed his lewd and boisterous admiration. Now, while a loose-tongued man is an offense to decent society, a dirty-minded and obscene boy is a nuisance—either in the gallery or on a newspaper. The obscene boy sees the Venus of Milo or the Venus of Titian, and cried, “Hullo, she’s got no clothes on! Here’s a lark!” There his notion of art begins and ends. The obscene boy sees me play the Hon. Cecil Brookfield, a performance which satisfied London for a whole season, and exclaims, “Look at her legs! Hang her acting: look at her legs!” That is his notion of the drama. He would discover only salacious suggestion in Mrs. Kendal’s Rosalind, and would perceive no difference of motive between the Viola of Miss Neilson and the nudities of the “Adamless Eden.”
     Now please conceive the situation. A lady, respected in England for her work in literature, who, whether as woman, authoress or actress, has received the respect and sympathy of all honest and pure-minded men, appears in an American theatre and is immediately placed at the mercy of a fledgling critic, who has neither knowledge, experience, talent nor respect for common decency, and whose sole aim is to select such expressions as may shock one who is as much his superior morally and intellectually as George Eliot was the superior of a shoe-black. Instead of seeing in her performance an attempt at least to achieve an artistic creation, he keeps his little, lewd, spiteful eyes on the “legs” of the actress, and writes a criticism about them. With the cunning of a street urchin he gathers up filth out of the gutter and flings it at his victim, shrieking all the time with delight at what he thinks a “jolly lark.”
     In England such a performance would insure the obscene boy sharp treatment from the reformatory of prison birch. Am I to understand that it is tolerated and approved of in America? I cannot believe it—nay, I am certain that the American public in general execrates the system which consigns dramatic criticism to the care of a Yankee “Gavroche,” or a transatlantic “Bailey Junior.” I am, &c.,                                                                   HARRIETT JAY.
Authoress of “The Queen of Connaught,” “The Dark Colleen,” “The Priest’s Blessing,” &c.
     Niblo’s Garden, Jan. 10.



The Era (24 January, 1885)

     MR BUCHANAN’S Lady Clare was played at Niblo’s Garden this week, and his sister-in-law, Miss Harriet Jay, has been assuming the rôle of the Hon. Cecil Brookfield. Miss Jay is a few inches taller and considerably heavier than Lord Ambermere, and when she cries defiantly “Hit one of ‘your size’” she brings down the house.



The Daily Republican (Omaha, Nebraska) (8 March, 1885 - p.3)

     A New York letter says: The dramatic critic of The Herald is again the subject of attack on the part of the dramatic papers and such daily papers as are always glad to find an excuse for pitching into The Herald. The trouble this time is Miss Harriet Jay’s legs. Miss Harriet Jay is the sister-in-law of Robert Buchanan, with whom she is paying a visit to this country. Miss Jay has acted in burlesque in England, but never with any great success. She has distinguished herself more as a novelist (for she has written some very pretty stories) than as an actress; but she has an ambition to distinguish herself upon the boards, and Mr. Buchanan does all in his power to assist her. He succeeded in getting her an opportunity to play one afternoon at the Madison Square theater, and he invited the “press” and the “profession” to witness her performance. It was not a very edifying spectacle, but the audience had some amusement out of it. Not satisfied with this, Mr. Buchanan gets Miss Jay an engagement at Niblo’s Garden, where she appeared in a boy’s part. Miss Jay’s figure is not at present adapted to roles of this sort; she is too old and too stout to appear in them successfully; but you seldom find an actress who knows when she is too old or too stout to play any role that she may take a fancy to. The dramatic editor of The Herald sent one of his assistants to see this performance, and when the young man returned to The Herald office he asked him how Miss Jay was. “Very poor,” replied the young man; “I don’t see what I can say about her  acting.” “What was the most conspicuous thing about her performance?” asked the editor. “Her legs,” replied the young man, blushing. “Very well, then,” said the chief, “write about her legs;” and this the young man set to work to do. In a neat paragraph he told the readers of The Herald that Miss Jay’s legs in the first act were incased in silken hose of a certain color, and that their expression was so and so, and he went on to describe them in this light and airy manner in each succeeding act, and then he closed his report of the performance. It was not a very dignified way of noticing a play, but there was some provocation for it, I must admit. The effect upon Miss Jay was electrical, and she, or rather Robert Buchanan, at once sat down and dashed off a circular letter, which was sent to every paper in New York. Only one published it; it was signed Harriet Jay, but it was in Mr. Buchanan’s most characteristic style; in the style that he won his first spurs, when he attacked the “flashly school” of poetry in the columns of The Examiner. He called the representative of The Herald every name that his invention suggested, and was very sarcastic and amusing at the expense of the young man. But The Herald doesn’t mind, and the paragraph about Miss Jay’s legs has advertised her to an extent that she never could have got by any legitimate means.



The Star (Christchurch, New Zealand) (14 March, 1885 - p.3)


     The production of “Lady Clare” at Niblo’s Theatre, New York, has brought forth an extraordinary piece of “criticism” (so-called) from the representative of a New York daily. The writer says: “Miss Harriet Jay assumed the rôle of the youth, the Hon Cecil Brookfield. In the first act she wore loose white trousers, and the venerable gentlemen in the front row took very little interest in the play. The rear view of Miss Jay’s legs was certainly very unsatisfactory, for they seemed to be bulky and given to inclining inward at the knees. There was a pleasant surprise in the second act, when Miss Jay’s legs appeared in velvet knickerbockers and black stockings. They were plump, light-comedy sort of legs, but very vague in the region of the knickerbockers, where the general appearance was that of decided stoutness. Miss Jay is two inches taller and a few pounds heavier than Lord Abercrombie, and when she cried defiantly, ‘Hit one of your size,’ she made a fine comedy hit. Throughout the last act her legs were clad in tight grey stockings and shooting breeches. In this she made her best points tell.”
     The above is the entire notice of “Lady Clare,” which appeared the following morning (Jan. 6) in the New York Herald. And this is the sort of thing which in America passes for dignified journalism.


[American press notices for John C. Buckstone in the role of Cecil Brookfield from The Era (4 July, 1885).]


Brighton Daily Gazette & Sussex Telegraph (9 July, 1885 - p.5)


     Last evening Robert Buchanan’s adaptation from Les Maitre de Forges, Lady Clare, was placed on the boards. The title role of the piece, it may be remembered, has been previously played here by Miss Ada Cavendish, who created such a great impression at the time of this drama’s production at the Globe Theatre some two years ago. The play follows closely in the lines of the Ironmaster, while the later acts remind one very strongly of Impulse. The play is thoroughly interesting throughout, and the staging is everything that could be desired, but we would venture to point out one slight defect, the subject of which has been before commented upon, it is that, in response to the applause of a re-appearance of the characters at the end of the fourth act, when the duel has taken place and Lady Clare is wounded, they appear in front of the curtain, and thus the illusion is partially destroyed, whereas, if the curtain were to be simply raised again the audience would be fully as satisfied, and the interest throughout would be maintained. We trust that these lines may be accepted in the truly kindly spirit in which they are given, and also that they may be acted upon. Mrs Edward Saker as Lady Clare showed a vast amount of sentiment, which in the more trying portions of the piece, when her talent was taxed to the utmost she proved herself thoroughly equal to the occasions. Her gradually growing affection for the man whom she had once repelled was faithfully depicted, in the last act this was especially noticeable, and Mrs Saker deserves a hearty compliment for the success which she achieved. Miss Lillie price put a good deal of vivaciousness into the character of Mary Middleton, and gave an exceedingly good rendering of the youthful flirtation with the Hon. Cecil Brookfield (Mr Arthur Wellesley, who must share the honours) throughout. The Misses Homfrey and Poland, as Miss Smale and Lady Broadmeads respectively, played very creditably, and well sustained their parts. Mons. Fred Achard as John Middleton played capitally. In the second act, where he learns from his wife that her marriage is solely one of pique, he acts with remarkable skill and discretion, infusing just a sufficiency of power into his acting without in any way overstepping the boundary. It was noticeable at times that his enunciation was a trifle too rapid, and consequently indistinct; this should be remedied, and the character then will be nearly perfection. Mr Lewis as the villain of the play, played with due care, and gave a very fair reading to the small amount which he had to do. Mr Wood as the parvenu Smale was capitally suited, and made as much as possible out of the character. The other roles were, throughout, creditably filled, and we have no doubt that for the remainder of the week there will be large audiences to witness what is certainly one of the best pieces that has been down to Brighton this year.


[Advert for a revival of Lady Clare (with Harriett Jay) from The Stage (28 August, 1885 - p.12).]


The Era (29 August, 1885 - p.14)

On Monday, August 24th, Revival of the Drama, in Five Acts,
by Robert Buchanan, entitled

John Middleton             ..............   Mr HENRY NEVILLE
Lord Ambermere           ..............  Mr R. C. LYONS
Gould Smale                  ..............  Mr A. CHUDLEIGH
Major O’Connor           ..............  Mr W. MORGAN
Count Legrange             ..............   Mr H. ELMORE
Woosnam                      ..............   Mr G. HUNTLEY
Grimes                           ..............   Mr BRUTON ROBINS
Mrs Forster                    ..............  Miss NELLY BENNETT
Countess of Broadmeads   ...........   Miss LIZZIE CLAREMONT
Hon. Cecil Brookfield    ..............   Miss HARRIET JAY
Mary Middleton             ..............  Miss CARMEN BARKER
Melissa Smale                ..............  Miss EDITH BLAND
Lady Clare                     ..............  Miss MARIE ILLINGTON

     Mr Robert Buchanan’s version of Georges Ohnet’s Le Maître de Forges, with the title of Lady Clare, has again been revived during the week at the Pavilion, under the auspices of and with the company engaged by Mr Augustus Harris. Since Lady Clare first attracted Pavilion playgoers some two years ago Madame Jane Hading and M. Damala, the French originals of Ohnet’s hero and heroine, have visited both the Royalty and Gaiety theatres with the author’s own version of his novel that secured such a long run at the Paris Gymnase, and this version has also been rendered into English, but not anglicised, by Mr A. W. Pinero, for Mr and Mrs Kendal, The Ironmaster enjoying a remunerative run at the St. James’s. From the foregoing facts it must be concluded the French novelist’s work has become almost as popular in this country as in his own. The difference between the two principal English adaptations—there have been minor ones produced in the provinces—is that while Mr Pinero has simply been content with a scholarly translation of M. Ohnet’s “play,” Mr Buchanan has endeavoured with considerable success to make the principal characters of the original “novel” English, though of necessity he has to take them a trip across Channel to give the duel situation, the best in the play, an appearance of reality. The motive of the piece, the misery of a mariage de convenance is, unfortunately, quite as much English as French; but perhaps the lesson taught by Lady Clare comes home with greater force to aristocratic audiences than to the more humble frequenters of the Pavilion. For the rôle of John Middleton Mr Henry Neville has been engaged by Mr Harris, and appeared for the first time as the much-wronged ironmaster on Monday evening. We doubt if the part has been better played; but we need make no comparisons. It was in the second act that Mr Neville made his first great effect. In the indignant tones of a scarcely-suppressed passion he uttered the commands of John Middleton to the bride who had so cruelly deceived him. In contrast to this may be quoted the calm, quiet dignity of the man as he leaves the woman who has wrecked his life to go forth and meet, as he thinks, certain death at the hands of a professed duellist. Again, in the final reconciliation with his repentant wife, how well did the actor give expression to the newly-born joy of John Middleton. Mr Neville, of course, became an immense favourite with the audience, as every word he spoke could be distinctly heard, and they never seemed tired of cheering him. Miss Marie Illington as Lady Clare, quietly effective in the earliest scenes, rose to true power in the final act, where Lady Clare opens Lord Ambermere’s eyes to the true state of her feelings regarding him. The actress may also be complimented on her unforced manner of expressing the despair of Lady Clare, and when the wretched wife has to ask pity of the man to whom she had shown none Miss Illington’s heartbroken accents roused the sympathy of the house, and secured hearty applause when the curtain was raised at the conclusion of the second act. Miss Harriet Jay repeated her successful impersonation of the Eton boy, the Hon. Cecil Brookfield. The talented authoress again deported herself in male costume as if she rarely wore anything else. Whether this be so or not is of no moment. Cecil Brookfield, as Miss Jay represents him, is as exhilarating a specimen of the British boy as could be desired, though he commences to make love rather early to Mary Middleton. This character Miss Carmen Barker represented very prettily. Miss Edith Bland looked handsome and played well as Melissa Smale. Gould Smale, the worst drawn character in the piece, was, it will be remembered, played at the Globe by the late Horace Wigan, who was not seen to advantage in the part. Precisely the same may be said of Mr Chudleigh, the present representative of the Yankee at the Pavilion. Mr R. C. Lyons made an incisive and cool Lord Ambermere, showing to considerable advantage in the challenge scene. As the Countess of Broadmeads Miss Lizzie Claremont acted with the requisite “tone,” and we may give a word of praise to the Major O’Connor of Mr W. Morgan. Lady Clare was very well mounted, the scene of the lake and grounds at Broadmeads being both pretty and elaborate. The piece was also well received by a full house, and “curtain” honours were unstintingly bestowed on the principals.



The Morning Post (4 September 1885 - p.5)


     “Brock’s Benefit” is always a red-letter day in the annals of the Sydenham establishment, and yesterday, so far from being an exception to the rule, only served to emphasise it. This year is the 20th anniversary of Messrs. Brock’s engagement as pyrotechnists to the Crystal Palace Company, and the firm marked the event by a fête which throws into the shade all their previous benefit days. ... Yesterday, however, no fewer than 48,000 or 50,000 persons passed the turnstiles; and both he building and grounds presented a most animated appearance from a very early hour. Nor was the programme of amusements lacking either in extent or variety. In addition to the standing attractions of the Palace, there was a performance of Robert Buchanan’s drama “Lady Clare,” by Mr. Henry Neville’s company, under the direction of Mr. Augustus Harris, an extraordinary exhibition of shooting prowess by an eleven-year old rifleman whose nom de guerre of “Young Nimrod” conceals the more ordinary pseudonym of “Brown,” and the Blondin-like evolutions, on a lofty wire, of Madlle. Ella Zuila. In addition there were entertainments by Dr. Lynn and performances by the bands of the Grenadier Guards, the Scots Guards, and the London Rifle Brigade. But at a Brock Benefit fireworks and illuminations are the chief attractions, and these were provided on a lavish scale. ...



From Dramatic Notes: An Illustrated Year-Book of The Stage by Austin Brereton (Fifth and Sixth Issues, 1883-84 and 1884-85) (London: David Bogue, 1885 - pp.17-18)


     Lady Clare, announced as a “New drama of modern society,” by Robert Buchanan, proved an unacknowledged and inefficient version of a story by Georges Ohnet, entitled “Le Maître de Forges.” It contained the germs of a charming and dramatic play, but it was very indifferently constructed. The dialogue was neither forcible nor polished, and scenes from other plays were continually and forcibly suggested. The story is this: The first of the five acts into which the play is divided takes place at the house of Lady Clare Brookfield. Lady Clare is in love with Lord Ambermere, and her affection is returned. She is also loved by a wealthy manufacturer, John Middleton, who asks her to be his wife. She refuses his suit, but on hearing that Lord Ambermere is ruined, and that, in order to retrieve his fortunes, he is about to marry a rich American girl, and, also to recoup her own shattered fortune, Lady Clare agrees to marry Mr. Middleton. In the second act we hear that the heroine is married, but still, not loving her husband, she resolves to fly from him. Middleton will not allow her to thus desert him, and he and his wife determine to live together, husband and wife in name only. The third act takes place at Dieppe. Lord Ambermere has followed Lady Clare thither, and, through an opportunity provided by his wife, who is jealous of his old love, he makes an avowal of his passion for her. He is interrupted by the arrival of Middleton, and the two men quarrel. A duel is therefore arranged. The fourth act shows in its first scene how Lady Clare discovers that her husband is going to fight Lord Ambermere. The second scene of this act takes place in a forest. The two men arrive, and just as they fire Lady Clare rushes on and falls apparently lifeless. The last act depicts the recovery of Lady Clare, who has only been shot in the shoulder by the bullet intended for her husband. At last she has learnt to love her husband, and she recognises the value of his noble nature. She is debating in her mind as to the expediency of telling him that she loves him, when the intrepid, shameless Lord Ambermere enters and again protests his love. He is vain enough to think that in her endeavour to stop the duel Lady Clare had been concerned in his safety instead of that of her husband. But for once he is mistaken, and the lady turns upon him and tells him that she loves her husband. Middleton has heard her repulse the scoundrel, and he orders Lord Ambermere off the premises. The villain slinks away, and at length husband and wife are united. It must be confessed that there is some interest in such a story as this, but Mr. Buchanan’s play was too weak and undramatic, and he was too much at fault in the drawing of his female characters for the play to succeed. He made his heroine unnecessarily guilty, and he provided her with a singularly mercenary mother—a character played with her accustomed art by Miss Carlotta Leclerq. Then in the American girl he displayed a very heartless, jealous type of woman. These characters, or rather similar ones, are no doubt common enough in the world, but they are not the most edifying pictures of womankind. Lady Clare was portrayed with admirable finish and artistic feeling by Miss Ada Cavendish, but the actress had very little chance for the display of her well-known ability. Her delivery of the one strong speech in the play—that in the last act, where Lady Clare renounces her lover—was marked by much fire and passion. John Middleton was played by Mr. Alfred Bucklaw, who was earnest, but not strong enough for the character.



The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser (3 August, 1886 - p.5)


     Those who have seen The Ironmaster, or who have read the novel from which it is taken, will find no difficulty in arriving at the source of Lady Clare, which was produced at the Queen’s Theatre last night before one of the most crowded audiences we have ever seen within the building. Lady Clare is by Robert Buchanan, author of Sophia, Alone in London, &c., and treating it as an original composition, the plot may be described as simple and its unravelling not unnatural. Lady Clare Brookfield (Miss Clifford) is in love with Lord Ambermere (Mr. F. Charles). She is beautiful and virtuous: he is a roué and becomes poor, and to get out of his difficulties marries Melissa Smale (Miss Florence Cowell), the daughter of an American millionaire. Lady Clare, out of pique, after haughtily refusing an offer of marriage from John Middleton (Mr. M. Brodie), a wealthy manufacturer, suddenly gives her hand to him, but on the night of the marriage expresses aversion to her husband, and, by consent, husband and wife occupy the same house in that capacity in name only. Abroad, the chief actors in the drama meet in an hotel, and Lord Ambermere, a crack duellist, purposely insults Middleton. A meeting follows, and as the pistols are fired Lady Clare rushes between the combatants and receives the shot of her first lover, which, however, while it terminates the encounter, does not lead to serious consequences, but rather to the happy union of Lady Clare with her husband. It is in all its details an excellent play; it is in fairly good hands; and the Queen’s should be crowded every night of its presentation. A piece better mounted at this theatre we have never seen. The scenery and dresses are really superb. At the close of every one of the acts the principals were called before the curtain and honoured with storms of well-earned applause.



The Stage (15 June, 1888 - p.4)

     DUBLIN—GAIETY (Patentee, proprietor, and Director, Mr. Michael Gunn; General Manager, Mr. J. Doyle).— Miss Janetta Steer, supported by Mr. Frederick Mouillot and Co., appeared here on Monday evening in Robert Buchanan’s drama, Lady Clare, and received a generous reception. To the representation of the title rôle Miss Steer lent all that personal attractions and a genuine capacity for portraying emotion could bestow on it, while Mr. Frederick Mouillot, albeit at times inaudible, owing to a peculiar habit of lowering his voice at the termination of a sentence, gave a careful rendering of the character of John Middleton, and in the second act especially may be credited with a really capable piece of playing in his scene with Lady Clare. The Lord Ambermere of Mr. R. T. Lingham was a somewhat spasmodic performance of the part, and Mr. Charles Herberte was only fairly good as Mr. Gould Smale. The small part of Count Legrange was successfully played by Mr. Wilton Heriot, and Mr. J. Edward Wolf, who, under other names, appeared to double some other minor parts, caused some merriment to the gallery by his exposition of the character of Major O’Connor. The brighter side of the story was depicted humorously and cleverly by Miss Dolly Harmer and Miss Dora Goddard, who appeared as Hon. Cecil Brookfield and Mary Middleton respectively, and Miss Leslie Lester rendered the part of Melissa Smale with no inconsiderable amount of success. Mrs. Ernest Clifton represented the Countess of Broadmeads. The drama was fairly well mounted, and the incidental music, which is pretty and was tastefully executed, is by Lady Arthur Hill. The comedietta, A Case for Eviction, preceded the drama, and was capably performed.



The Stage (24 August, 1888 - p.4)

     BELFAST—ROYAL (Proprietor and Manager, Mr. J. F. Warden; Secretary and Business Manager, Mr. Fred Jarman).—We are fortunate in having Robert Buchanan’s Lady Clare on its first production here, rendered by such a capable young actress as Miss Janette Steer and the capable Co. supporting her. Miss Steer’s portrayal of the haughty Lady Clare is a finished performance, the subtle changes of the character are firmly grasped, and nowhere is there a straining for effect. Mr. F. Mouillot as John Middleton gives a masterly interpretation in keeping with the character. Mr. Charles Herbert is a thorough Yankee, and Mr. F. Seale Lingham as Lord Amblemere gets the villain’s praise—plenty of hisses. The humours of juvenile courtship are well delineated by Miss Naomi Hope as Melissa Smale and Mr. Raymond Capp as Cecil Brookfield. On Thursday Pygmalion and Galatea was to be played with Miss Steer as Galatea. Next week, Mr. and Mrs. Hubert O’Grady and Co. in Emigration.



The Morning Post (7 December 1888 - p.5)


     Yesterday afternoon Miss Janette Steer, who is not altogether unknown to the metropolitan stage, appeared as Lady Clare in Mr. Robert Buchanan’s drama of that name, in which Miss Ada Cavendish played a few years ago at the Globe Theatre, prior to the production of “The Ironmaster”—based upon the same French theme—at the St. James’s Theatre, by Mr. and Mrs. Kendal. Miss Steer has grace, feeling, and the power of interesting her audience, no mean recommendations for the profession in which she is endeavouring to obtain distinction. There was much in her performance yesterday that was entitled to high praise, more especially in the concluding acts, when the plot runs in a somewhat melodramatic current. Mr. Frederick Mouillot was a manly representative of John Middleton, and Miss Dora Goddard was appropriately simple in style as the manufacturer’s youthful sister. In other respects the cast was the reverse of strong.



The Era (8 December 1888)


     Though the late Lord Beaconsfield, according to his own account, was “born in a library,” we were not aware that Mr Augustus Harris’s entry into this world was made in a place of amusement until the fact was conveyed to us by the programme of Miss Janette Steer’s matinée at Terry’s Theatre on Thursday afternoon last. It was stated on this bill that Lady Clare was played by arrangement with “Augustus Harris, Esq., originally produced at the Globe Theatre.” The cast of the piece on Thursday was as follows:—

Countess Broadmeads  ..............   Mrs ERNEST CLIFTON
Lady Clare Brookfield    ..............  Miss JANETTE STEER
Hon. Cecil Brookfield    ..............   Mr ARTHUR WALCOTT
Lord Ambermere           ..............  Mr F. TEALE LINGHAM
Count Legrange             ..............  Mr C. HOWITT
John Middleton             ..............   Mr FREDERICK MOUILLOT
Mary Middleton             ..............  Miss DORA GODDARD
Major O’Connor           ..............  Mr ASPINALL
Mr Gould Smale           ..............   Mr CHARLES HERBERTE
Melissa Smale                ..............  Miss NAOMI HOPE
Woosnam                      ..............   Mr J. E. WOLFE
Mrs Forster                    ..............  Miss CAROLINE ADAMS
Montgomery                   ..............  Mr E. SINCLAIR
Grimes                           ..............   Mr JAMES SINCLAIR
French Waiter                .............. Mr MAURICE DEVINE
French Surgeon             ...............  Mr E. CASTLE

Mr Robert Buchanan’s adaptation of Mr George Ohnet’s novel, “Le Maitre de Forges,” was first played at the Globe Theatre, on April 11th, 1883, with Miss Ada Cavendish in the part of Lady Clare Brookfield, Mr Philip Beck as Lord Ambermere, Mr Alfred Bucklaw as John Middleton, Mr Horace Wigan as Mr Gould Smale, Miss Carlotta Leclercq as the Countess of Broadmeads, Miss Harriett Jay as the Hon. Cecil Brookfield, and Miss Lydia Cowell as Mary Middleton—a very strong and interesting cast. The story of the piece has also been made familiar to English audiences by the performances of The Ironmaster at the St. James’s Theatre, Mr Buchanan’s work being somewhat crude and commonplace, though a fairly effective version of the French novel. Miss Janette Steer’s nervous and emotional personality does not unfit her for the representation of the proud and sensitive aristocrate, and she appeared to considerable advantage in the part. It cannot, however, truly be said that Miss Steer or her companions made us forget previous performances of the title-rôle or of the piece. There was a vast amount of honest work done by the cast, but in hardly any case did it pass the limits of the second-rate. With this deduction from the sum of perfect praise, we may say that Mrs Ernest Clifton was ladylike and easy as the Countess Broadmeads, and that Miss Dora Goddard was a sprightly and agreeable Mary Middleton. Mr Arthur Walcott, who played the Hon. Cecil Brookfield, did not sufficiently disguise his real age, and a certain griminess of his upper lip and other facial details made his impersonation of youth somewhat transparent. Mr F. Teale Lingham looked Lord Ambermere fairly well. Mr Frederick Mouillot threw a great amount of feeling and earnestness into his representation of John Middleton, and Mr C. Howitt and Mr Aspinall gave characteristic portrayals of the parts of Count Legrange and Major O’Connor respectively. Mr Charles Herberte made Mr Gould Smale a typical Yankee papa. Miss Naomi Hope as Melissa looked far too comfortable a personage to be capable of much vindictive villainy; Mr James Sinclair spoke Grimes’s oration eloquently enough; and the other parts in the play were fairly well filled. A rather thin audience watched the progress of the performance with amiable apathy.


[Advert from The Staffordshire Sentinel (23 February, 1889 - p.1).]


The York Herald (22 October, 1889 - p.5)


     Last night the rising and talented actress, Miss Janette Steer, began an engagement at the York Theatre, in Robert Buchanan’s drama “Lady Clare.” Miss Steer’s representation of the title rôle is worthy of the highest praise. The part is undoubtedly a most trying one, but it would be impossible to concur how it could be improved. Miss Steer’s acting, when she hears of her lover’s ruin and his duplicity, the scene with her husband on the wedding day, and her reconciliation with her husband in the last act being simply perfect. It is seldom we see a “star” assisted by such an excellent company as the one under notice. Mr. F. Mouillot as John Middleton, acts his part like the true artist he is, the wedding scene above mentioned being worthy of special mention. Mr. H. A. Forde’s representation of Lord Ambermere left nothing to be desired. The part is a very unthankful one, but was admirably acted. Mr. Frank Irish played the part of the wealthy American, Gould Smale, in a most efficient manner. Mr. Irish is a comedian of well- known ability, and seems admirably suited to his part. As Mary Middleton Miss Blanche Barry was highly amusing, and her acting found great favour with the audience, and a similar compliment must be paid to the highly finished manner in which Mr. Belkan played the character of Cecil Brookfield. Miss May Protheroe had a most unthankful part as Melissa Smale, but it was well represented. The various minor parts were also satisfactorily filled. The mounting of the piece was very good, and music by Lady Arthur Hill was very appropriate. The audience frequently by their loud applause to their approval of the acting. Lady Clare will be only played once more during the week, namely, to-night, and we would strongly recommend playgoers not to miss the opportunity of seeing one of the best dramas of the present time, acted by a company of the highest merit. On Wednesday, “School for Scandal” will be substituted, with Miss Steer as Lady Teazle; on Thursday, “The Lady of Lyons”; Friday, which is under the patronage of the Sheriff and Mrs. Matthews, is set apart for “Pygmalion and Galatea”; and on Saturday night, a play by Mr. F. Mouillot, entitled “Gentleman Jack,” will be produced. The drama was preceded by a very amusing comedietta, “A Case for Eviction,” which was well played, and caused much laughter.



The Theatre (1 May, 1894)

[From the section ‘Some Amateur Performances.’]


     Buchanan’s version of “The Ironmaster” has never stood high in favour amongst amateurs, and in steering wide of it they have shown their good sense. Tackling the leading parts means, for the majority of amateurs, courting disaster. There are just three or four I could lay my hand upon who might be trusted to render a fair account of Middleton, and Miss Olive Kennett, I fancy, could reveal to us something of the tragedy of that second act; but save and excepting these it were best to leave the play on the shelf, “in the odour of camphor.” It’s too tough a nut for them. Mr. and Mrs. Hallward have stronger teeth than most, and even they do not get to the kernel of their characters, though the actress (at her best in the first and last acts) comes uncommonly near it—so near, indeed, that with a stronger note of pathos it would be actually within her grasp. As it stands, however, it is a performance to be equalled by few amateurs, and beaten only by the one exception I have named. Compared with the difficulties with which the principals are compassed about, the path of the remainder seems singularly free from obstacle, and such trifling ones as present themselves are dismissed with enviable ease by the capable cast the Romany put forward. Mrs. Sim, alone amongst amateurs in her capacity for character of a boldly-marked kind, was exactly the actress required for Melissa Smale; Mr. Auckland Bramwell’s realistic Ambermere aroused the strongest interest in a new actor; Mrs. Coplestone, with the merest corner to fill, filled it to perfection; Mr. Tulloh gave a graphic sketch of the American millionaire; Mr. Birch Reynardson exercised marked discretion as the Count; a couple of minutes sufficed Mr. Montgomerie for an excellent bit of work; Mr. Jeaffreson’s boyish spirits enlivened the wearisome comic relief; Miss Annesley was lively if somewhat self- conscious as Mary—curiously enough, in little Miss Allen, the dainty little actress who made her début at the last Romany performance, the Club had the very actress to their hand.



Next: Robert Buchanan’s production of J. B. Buckstone’s The Flowers of the Forest (1883)

Back to the Bibliography or the Plays or Harriett Jay Theatre Reviews








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