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

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ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901)

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THEATRE REVIEWS

26. A Man’s Shadow (1889) - continued ii

 

The Era (26 September, 1891 - p.9)

THE MARYLEBONE.
On Saturday, Sept 19th, the Play,
in Four Acts and Four Tableaux, by Robert Buchanan, entitled
“A MAN’S SHADOW.”

Henriette                      ...     Mrs HENRY GASCOIGNE
Lucien Laroque           ...
Luversan                     ... }     Mr ACTON BOND
Raymond de Noirville   ...     Mr J. FREDERICK POWELL
Gerbier                        ...    Mr EDWARD BODDY
Picolet                          ...     Mr WILFORD BAILEY
Tristot                          ...     Mr CHARLES R. STONE
Jean Ricordot              ...    Mr T. S. DELLER
President of the Court   ...     Mr JOHN HENDERSON
Advocate-General       ...    Mr ARTHUR HART
Lacroix                        ...    Mr CHARLES A. MORGAN
The Usher                    ...     Mr WILLIAMS
Valet                            ...     Mr J. VIVIAN
Officer                        ...    Mr G. FRANCIS
Susanne                      ...    Miss LILY IVANHOE
Victoire                       ...    Miss LUCY MURRAY
Julie                              ...     Miss MADGE DENZIL

     It was evident on Saturday evening from the favourable reception given to A Man’s Shadow that Mr Gascoigne’s policy of producing the melodramas and plays that have won popularity in more fashionable centres is one that meets with the entire approval of his patrons. The story that Mr Robert Buchanan has adapted with such skill from the Ambigu piece Roger La Honte is once that appeals with irresistible power to a popular audience. The force of cruel circumstance that overwhelms Laroque and makes him suffer for the crime of Luversan is due to the strong facial resemblance between the two men; and in this respect only A Man’s Shadow resembles Le Courrier de Lyon, known to Lyceum audiences as The Lyons Mail. Mr Buchanan in his slightly compressed version has skilfully retained all the best situations of the original piece; and none of these have created a more powerful effect at the Marylebone during the week than the solemn trial scene, where Raymond De Noirville, under the burden of an imagined dishonour put upon him by the man he is defending, quenches the bitterness of hate that gnaws at his heart, bravely attempts to do his duty as an advocate, and falls dead in the attempt. When A Man’s Shadow was produced at the Haymarket the fine acting of Mr James Fernandez as the advocate produced a very remarkable impression in this same scene—one of the best of its kind that has ever been composed in melodrama. Mr J. Frederick Powell, the Raymond De Noirville of the Marylebone cast, attacked its difficulties bravely and successfully, his savage and whispered upbraiding of Laroque, as well as the working of his facial muscles indicating the intense excitement under which the advocate is labouring. His speech for the defence was powerful in its intensity, and there was no undue forcing of the note. The part is one that some actors might be tempted to “tear a cat” in. Mr Powell avoids the Scylla of rant, without falling into the Charybdis of tameness. An altogether artistic piece of acting, too, was that of Mr Acton Bond, on whose shoulders fell the double responsibilities of the rôles of Laroque and Luversan. The difference in the characters is a remarkable one, though the lineaments are so alike. Mr Bond’s success at the Marylebone is greatest when, as soon as the dignified and manly Laroque has left the dock in the trial scene, his villainous counterpart, with a horrible chuckle, makes his appearance opposite to hand Julie De Noirville’s fatal note to her husband. Could it be one and the same individual playing the two parts? was a question that naturally arose in one’s mind, and this very doubt is perhaps the greatest tribute that can be paid to the young actor, whose elocution is so excellent, and whose power is already so well under restraint. Mrs Henry Gascoigne made an excellent Henriette, delineating with no little skill the conflicting emotions of the distraught wife, and Miss Madge Denzil’s Julie was a careful and painstaking performance. Miss Lucy Murray as Victoire, the waiting-maid, also did well. The puerile humour of Picolot and Tristot does not add strength to the trial scene, but it seemed to be relished by the Maryleboners, who roared at the “business” of Mr Wilford Bailey and Mr Charles R. Stone. Mr T. S. Deller had a comic appearance as Jean Ricardot; Mr Charles Morgan was a good Lacroix; and Mr John Henderson’s president could scarcely have been improved upon. Miss Lily Ivanhoe’s pronunciation as little Susanne left something to be desired. Other parts were adequately played by Messrs Edward Boddy, Arthur Hart, Williams, J. Vivian, and G. Francis. The Waterman preceded the principal piece of the evening. Mr John F. Storer, the courteous acting-manager of the house, carries out his duties with real tact.

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The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser (6 September, 1892 - p.5)

THEATRE ROYAL.
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     The annual visit of Mr. Beerbohm Tree and his Haymarket Company to Manchester is always regarded as one of the events of the theatrical year. It is looked forward to with interest, and leaves pleasant memories behind it. The public of this city is not slow to recognise and appreciate histrionic merit, and so deep has been the impression left on the local theatrical mind by Mr. Tree’s previous visits that it was only reasonable to expect a full and enthusiastic house to welcome his return at the Theatre Royal yesterday evening. During the present visit of the company several plays that have won for themselves a niche in the temple of Thespis will be presented, the brief season opening last night with “A Man’s Shadow,” a drama adapted from the French play, “Roger la Honte,” by Mr. Robert Buchanan. We have often had to express our obligations to French sources for cleverly constructed plays. This is another of them. It reminds us, in one particular, at least, of “The Lyons Mail,” in that it affords Mr. Tree, as Mr. Henry Irving, in “The Lyons Mail,” an opportunity of appearing in a double role. The central figure is that of “Lucian Laroque,” a Parisian merchant in financial distress, who is being relentlessly pursued and wrongfully involved in a murder charge by his alter ego, Luversan, a spy. These are the characters assumed by Mr. Tree. Of course it is easy for one man to look like two men so much alike that nobody in a sense can tell the difference, but it is not so easy to present two wholly opposite characters, and the audience last night could never have been in doubt for a moment that Laroque and Luversan were one and the same. If Mr. Tree could completely change his intonation, it would be a fine performance, but even then there is a physical difficulty which Mr. Tree does not thoroughly overcome. Two men may be alike, but then all the world knows they are very different, and we expect to be made aware of that difference in a play. This dual character is not suited to Mr. Tree. He is not a good villain of the character of Luversan, but as Laroque, the much sinned against merchant, he is very powerful indeed. The trial scene was deeply impressive. Here, Miss Barton, as Susanne, the daughter of Laroque, when giving her evidence, brought tears into the eyes of many who would fain not acknowledge such a weakness in such a place, and there is very little humour in the small parts of Picolet and Tristol to counterbalance the overwhelming heaviness and solemnity, even tragical ending of the trial, the prisoner’s counsel, Raymond de Noirville (Mr. Fred Terry), falling dead in front of the dock as he is about to reveal his own wife’s supposed dishonour to save Laroque’s life. The part of Henriette Laroque, wife of the hero, was extremely well rendered by Miss Norreys, whose performance, in conjunction with that of her daughter in the murder scene, was powerful and realistic to a degree seldom witnessed. Miss Lily Hanbury, too, deserves commendation as Julie de Noirville, whose guilty love for Laroque forms the basis of the plot. The company, all round, is a capable one, and their efforts reaped very sincere applause, the principals being repeatedly recalled. A word of praise should also be given to the stage manager. The piece was excellently staged.

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The Stage (28 September, 1893 - p.12)

THE BRITANNIA.

     A powerful and impressive presentment of Robert Buchanan’s adaptation from the French, A Man’s Shadow. is the fixture for this week, and until further notice, at the great Hoxton theatre. This performance is as good as any we have seen on the Britannia boards. It goes without saying that the staging is excellent, and the acting is in all respects worthy of the reputation which the company here have won. There are many points in this play which appeal to lovers of strong dramatic effect. Mr. Algernon Syms is in his very best vein in the double rôle of Lucien Laroque and Luversan. His work in the second act is quite masterly, and deserves to be ranked among his best efforts. The intense naturalness of it, the repressed emotion, the well portrayed despair of the man who finds himself falsely accused of the most terrible of crimes, and the distinctly limned personality of the shadow, Luversan, are strong points on which Mr. Syms may well pride himself. Mr. Walter Steadman shows what true dramatic fibre is in him in the trial scene of the third act, in which Raymond de Noirville figures so prominently. Mr. Steadman acts brilliantly in this critical scene. It is a splendid effort, and one of the finest things Mr. Steadman has given us. Mr. W. S. Parkes is an effective M. Gerbier. Mr. W. H. Perrette is distinctly successful as Picolet. Mr. Joseph Rowland does well as Tristot. Mr. G. B. Bigwood causes much amusement by his droll portrayal of Jean Ricordot. As President of the Court Mr. Bruce Lindley displays his usual natural style, and has a good make. Mr. F. Beaumont is an effective Advocate-general. Mr. Walter Copley’s brisk and telling manner is well in accord with the part of Lacroix, the police agent. As Henriette, the wife of Laroque, Miss Oliph Webb puts forth all her best powers of tenderness, pathos, and realistic portraiture. Miss Winnie Whyte, who has been specially engaged for these performances, is remarkably effective as Suzanne. There is real talent in the acting of this clever child. Much of her good work is doubtless due to careful training, but there are, too, lights and shades of facial expression and inflections of tone which cannot be other than spontaneous and natural. Miss Lalor Shiel is as vivacious and attractive as ever as Victorie. Miss Beatrice Toy is a charming Julie. The remaining parts are in good hands. The varieties are entrusted to Harry Lemore and Adeline, the latter of whom goes through her clever trapeze performance. The afterpiece is My Turn Next.

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The Stage (10 June, 1897 - p.12)

THE MATINEE.

     Messrs. Acton Bond and Charles Meyrick, who are starting on tour with their company in A Man’s Shadow, are filling a week’s engagement at the comfortable theatre in Langham Place, where the performance of Robert Buchanan’s adaptation of Jules Mary and Georges Grisier’s popular melodrama, Roger La Honte, was received with great cordiality on the evening of Whit Monday. Many things have happened in Mr. Beerbohm Tree’s progress since September, 1889, when he was seen at the Haymarket in the characters of Lucien Laroque, the honest man and brave soldier, who is the victim of circumstantial evidence, and the so-called “Shadow,” Luversan, spy, blackmailer, and murderer. Though not so fine a dual rôle as that of Lesurques and Dubose in The Lyons Mail, the Laroque-Luversan combination offers excellent opportunities to an actor of versatility and resource, and of these chances Mr. Acton Bond made generally good use in the representation given at the Matinee on Monday. perhaps he did the better work as Luversan, making that jaunty rascal blithe and debonnair even in his desperation, and reproducing frequently the characteristic tones of Mr. Tree. Besides managing the changes adroitly, Mr. Bond differentiated admirably between the physical and psychological traits of the two men, and his demeanour as the wrongly-condemned Laroque was refined, gentle, and earnest, the beseeching of the child Suzanne to speak the truth in the Trial scene, and the grave reproach to the still suspecting wife in the last act, being among the other noticeable points in an excellent and highly creditable performance. Provincial playgoers who appreciate artistic acting should enjoy Mr. Acton Bond’s twin assumptions of Laroque and Luversan. The company supporting him in this in parts powerful, but, speaking generally, artificial, melodrama, are on the whole efficient, and some of the characters were very well played, although in the inept and dramatically worthless “comic relief” supplied by Mr. Buchanan, Messrs. H. G. Payne, W. Devereux, and Robson Paige were unable to do very much as the little Corporal Tristrot; the big Sergeant Picolot, and the egregious expert in handwriting, Jean Ricordot. It is a wonder, indeed, how such feeble comedy ever passed muster. In the part of Raymond de Noirville, which at the Haymarket Mr. Fernandez played with such tremendous effect, Mr. Frederick J. Powell gave on Monday a performance studiously restrained up to the scene where the advocate works himself into a frenzy and falls dead of heart disease in the Assize Chamber as he is on the point of confessing his wife’s shame to save his comrade’s life. Herein Mr. Powell acted with considerable [Note: there seems to be a missing line here.] juncture was followed, as before at the Haymarket, with warm applause. Julie de Noirville and Henriette Laroque appear respectively in two only out of the four acts, and hence the characters are less important than they should be in a more skilfully contrived dramatic scheme. Miss Dora de Winton, however, as Julie showed with emotional intensity and  deep-toned voice the fluctuations between passion and revengefulness experienced by Laroque’s ci-devant mistress, and Miss Keith Wakeman, although almost too subdued in the matter of utterance, brought out well the affection and perturbation of the soul-harrowed wife. As the little girl Suzanne, who refuses at the trial to inculpate her father, Miss Lulu Valli spoke and acted with the true ring of childish sorrow, and indeed at all points her performance was one of high promise. Miss Edith O. Crawford did capital work as that unwilling witness Victoire, the waiting maid; and Mr. Reginald Rivington as the police agent Lacroix, and Mr. John Henderson (who also stage managed a carefully- executed “production”) as the President of the Court, were both of much service. The other parts were passably filled, and the effects were suitably made. Mr. Charles Meyrick is business manager of the company.

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The London Musical Courier (17 June, 1897)

     Never were the theatres more interesting than now. There are good things coming and going everywhere. The scribe who would see them all should have, like Argus, a hundred eyes, of which only two go to sleep at one time. This week those who could not get to the Grand Theatre, Islington, have missed Mr. Forbes Robertson in Pinero’s splendid sermon, “The Profligate.”
     At the Matinée Theatre Mr. Acton Bond and Mr. Charles Meyrick’s specially engaged company have just finished a successful week in Mr. Robert Buchanan’s play, “A Man’s Shadow.” As “Henriette” Miss Keith Wakeman was most charming. Little Lulu Valli was exquisitely pathetic in the part of the tiny “Suzanne.” Though the West End Theatres may have all the actor-managers with theatres of their own, they have no monopoly of talent. “A Man’s Shadow” was well cast and excellently interpreted. Mr. Acton Bond has never done anything better than the dual role of “Laroque” and “Luversan.” An accomplished actor with a fascinating personality, his performance delighted his audience. If it be true that good things do well on tour, Mr. Acton Bond should have a great success with “A Man’s Shadow.”

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The Era (3 July, 1897 - p.9)

THEATRE METROPOLE.
On Monday, June 28th, the Four-Act Play,
by Robert Buchanan, entitled
“A MAN’S SHADOW.”

Lucien Laroque           ...
Luversan                     ... } Mr ACTON BOND
Raymond de Noirville   ...     Mr FREDERICK
J. POWELL
M.
Gerbier                  ...    Mr CHARLES
SEYMOUR
Picolet                          ...     Mr RICHARD SAKER
Tristot                          ...     Mr H. G. PAYNE
Jean Ricordot              ...    Mr ROBSON PAIGE
President of the Court   ...     Mr JOHN HENDERSON
Lacroix                        ...    Mr REGINALD
RIVINGTON
Usher                            ...     Mr HENRY ROLSTON
Valet                            ...    Mr H. HARVEY
Henriette                      ...    Miss KEITH WAKEMAN
Suzanne                        ...     Miss LULU VALLI
Victoire                       ...    Miss EDITH O. CRAWFORD
Julie                              ...     Miss DORA DE WINTON

     This week Camberwellians are enjoying the great Haymarket Theatre success, A Man’s Shadow, and the soul-stirring drama is meeting with enormous success at Mr Mulholland’s popular theatre. The company engaged by Mr Acton Bond and Mr Charles Meyrick is a particularly talented one, and each member deserves the highest eulogy. Mr Acton Bond appears in the dual rôle of Lucien Laroque (the man) and Luversan (his shadow), and is to be complimented upon his rendering of a very difficult and exacting double rôle. His polished performance is much appreciated, his distinct contrast between the real man and the shadow or “double” being decidedly clever. Another most finished piece of acting is supplied by gifted Mr Frederick J. Powell in his portrayal of Raymond De Noirville, whose speech in the defence of Laroque is most impressively made. Mr. Gerbier is intelligently played by Mr Charles Seymour. Picolot, a sergeant in the French army, and his colleague, Tristot, a corporal, afford Mr Richard Saker and Mr H. G. Payne opportunities to score in the comedy line, which they both do. Mr Robson Paige is very good as Jean Ricordot. Mr John Henderson is dignified and acts with judgment as the President of the Court, and his ability as a stage-manager is conspicuous. Mr Reginald Rivington does well in his interpretation of the police agent Lacroix. As the valet Mr H. Harvey speaks his lines creditably. Henriette is made a real personage by Miss Keith Wakeman, who infuses much vigour into the part, and acts with force and skill. Suzanne, the child, is played most naturally by a well-trained and exceptionally clever and interesting little maiden, Miss Lulu Valli, her actions, facial expression, and speech being well nigh perfect. Victoire is pleasingly represented by Miss Edith O. Crawford, and Miss Dora De Winton looks charmingly graceful as Julie, the wife of De Noirville, her grasp of this heavy part being artistic and worthy of the highest praise. A noteworthy feature is the music specially composed for Messrs Bond and Meyrick’s production by Miss Ella Overbeck. The scenery and mounting are praiseworthy. The play has been rehearsed under the personal direction of Mr Acton Bond, the general management being looked after by Mr Meyrick, assisted by Mr Adnam Sprange.

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The Morning Post (29 November, 1897 - p.6)

HER MAJESTY’S THEATRE.
_____

     A large and brilliant audience filled Her Majesty’s Theatre on Saturday night, and greeted with enthusiasm Mr. Tree’s revival of “A Man’s Shadow.” It is more than eight years since Mr. Robert Buchanan’s version of “Roger la Honte” was produced at the Haymarket Theatre, and of the original cast only Mr. and Mrs. Tree and Mr. Robson remain. But the play loses nothing by the new interpreters, and the performance was effective in the extreme, the actors being called at least half a dozen times after the third act, and again repeatedly at the final fall of the curtain. “A Man’s Shadow” is pre-eminently a play of effect. The author, doubtful of his power to conjure up visions of the sublime and the beautiful by holding the mirror up strictly to Nature, has preferred to excite our feelings by what is strange and harrowing at the expense of truth rather than run the risk of merely reproducing the commonplace by a too rigid fidelity to human life and character; he has written a melodrama. Everything is sacrificed to effect, but, thanks to the exceeding ingenuity and technical skill of the playwright, the desired result is attained. Printed and read, the story would not rouse our interest and sympathy as the acted play does. This is because in reading we pause and think. In the theatre the events follow one another so rapidly that there is no time for reflection. The plot is founded on a case of mistaken identity. Lucien Laroque, an honest merchant, and Luversan, a spy, are so alike that they are constantly taken for one another. The spy commits a robbery and a murder, and the honest man is arrested, tried, and condemned. He escapes from prison, and in the last act he is confronted with the villain, who shoots himself; the hero’s innocence is established, and the drama has a happy ending. There are three powerful situations. The murder, which takes place in a house seen across the street from Laroque’s room, is witnessed by his wife, his little daughter, and his maidservant. They are convinced of his guilt; but the mother, in an agony of fear, makes her child promise that she will reveal nothing whatever of what has occurred. Suzanne has seen nothing—heard nothing. The intelligent little creature is steadfast to her word; no inducement can move her to incriminate her father—not even his own entreaties to her to speak the truth before the full Court of Assize. There were few dry eyes when the pretty child, overcome by the solemnity of the scene, was carried fainting out of the Court. The merchant’s advocate is his great friend De Noirville, who has married Julie, formerly Laroque’s mistress. But of this De Noirville is ignorant, and for no consideration in the world will Laroque disclose a secret that would ruin his friend’s happiness. And yet it is a question of life and death, for the circumstances are such that on this admission lies Laroque’s only chance of proving his innocence. He prefers the claims of friendship to those of his own honour and his own life. But the most powerful situation of all is that in which the barrister finds himself. Suddenly, in the middle of the trial, he learns the truth. He is placed in the terrible dilemma of neglecting his duty and abandoning the friend whom he loves and whose guiltlessness he can prove, or else proclaim to all the world the worthlessness of his wife. He decides to sacrifice his own peace. But he was grievously wounded in the late war, and before he can conclude the impassioned speech which is to make all clear he falls dead in the Court. It is necessary, in order to bring about these situations and make them sufficiently plausible, to introduce a large number of motives and circumstances, such as the relations between the spy and Laroque’s wife and Julie, the merchant’s financial distress, the giving of money by Julie to a M. Gerbier (the murdered man) to whom Laroque was in debt, the finding of a pistol at the opportune moment, a compromising letter, and many other essential facts. Herein lies the weakness of the play, for these circumstances and coincidences are so numerous and so complex that we labour under the impression that they have been carefully and artificially produced to bring about the catastrophe. The story lacks simplicity and spontaneity. It also lacks the requisite of tragedy—the development of character. The personages are what the author requires for certain actions. They are fixed quantities, and their characters are not re-acted on by the events. Nothing could be finer than Mr. Tree’s rendering of both the merchant and the spy. The men are alike only in face and size; otherwise they are differentiated by innumerable little traits, which show the perfection of the actor’s art. Each has a characteristic gait, a different expression, even the involuntary movements of their muscles, especially of the hands, betray idiosyncrasies. As Laroque Mr. Tree is especially remarkable in the trial scene, a performance on which it would be difficult to improve. Our young stage aspirants would do well to master it in all its details—a task impossible at a single visit to the theatre, where a thousand things claim our attention. But night after night the students should be at their post observing and taking notes. From Mr. Lewis Waller, too, they would learn much. It would be hazardous after this lapse of time to compare his performance with that of Mr. Fernandez as the advocate. But the effect produced by the great speech at the trial, where, torn by conflicting emotions, the faithful friend falls dead before he can incriminate the wife he loves, was in both cases the same—it brought down the house. Mr. Waller enjoyed a well-deserved triumph. The minor parts were likewise excellently rendered, and to Messrs. E. M. Robson, Lionel Brough, and Gerald du Maurier the greatest credit is due for the humorous scenes, which, naturally and appropriately introduced, afford welcome relief from the strain and gloom of melodrama. The actresses had fewer opportunities of distinction. Mrs. Tree was graceful and sympathetic as Laroque’s unhappy wife, and little Miss Dorrie Harris, as Suzanne, was the sweetest, most innocent, and natural little heroine imaginable. It would be hypercritical to find fault because she was dressed as a pretty English girl; for had she appeared more correctly in the usual garb of a French child much of the charm of the picture would have been absent. Miss Lily Hanbury’s talents and devotion to her art have won for her much regard, and she is too true an artist to feel hurt if it is pointed out that to reach perfection it is necessary to conceal that art as much as  possible. She has mastered the methods of the stage, but they appear somewhat too obvious in all she does. Let her watch the women of her acquaintance, especially in their emotional moods. She will notice that they rarely speak and move as she does on the stage. The inflection of their voices, the rise and fall of their sentences, is more varied, more abrupt—in a word, more natural. When by chance this is not the case we say: This woman is an actress. It is exactly the converse that we wish to feel of the actress. She does not seem to be acting at all; she behaves as any woman would behave in the circumstances. This is the effect produced on us by Eleonora Duse. And it does not imply that all that is natural ought to be reproduced at the footlights. On the contrary, what takes place there should be altogether art. But the test of its real existence is that it should be mistaken for nature.

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The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser (29 November, 1897 - p.5)

     Whoever delights in strong, thrilling melodrama will be grateful to Mr. Beerbohm Tree for the revival of “A Man’s Shadow.” The story of the unhappy merchant who bears the shame, and narrowly escapes the punishment for, crimes committed by his double, has been retold by Mr. Robert Buchanan with a simplicity, a directness, and a force that inspires the imagination, and takes firm hold on the emotions. The scene is the assize court, where Laroque, the merchant, is tried for murder, may outrage our insular prejudices in favour of judicial decorum, but of its dramatic intensity there can be no question. The examination of the child who believes her father to be a murderer, the discovery made by the advocate that the prisoner—for whose life he was pleading as for his dearest friend—was the lover of his wife, the swift and awful death, with the confession of his own dishonour on his lips—all these are incidents to which the art of the dramatist and of the actor has given palpitating energy and actuality. These qualities are discernible in every part of the performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Mr. Tree plays the villain and the victim with nice discrimination, ingeniously emphasising those fine shades of difference which even wife and daughter fail to perceive. Mr. Lewis Waller discharges with ready ability the difficult duties of the advocate whose heart is torn asunder by the conflict between duty and friendship and honour. Mrs. Tree as the distressed wife, and Miss Lily Hanbury as the quondam mistress of Laroque and the wife of the advocate, make up an excellent company. A word may also be said in praise of little Miss Dorrie Harris, whose presentation of childish agony is admirable, though harrowing to the soul.

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From Dramatic Opinions and Essays - Volume Two by George Bernard Shaw (New York: Brentano’s, 1906 -  p. 380-382)

A Man's Shadow. Adapted from the French play “Roger la Honte” by Robert Buchanan. Revival.
Her Majesty’s Theatre. 27 November, 1897.

     It is not in human nature to regard Her Majesty’s Theatre as the proper place for such a police-court drama as “A Man’s Shadow.” Still, it is not a bad bit of work of its kind; and it would be a good deal better if it were played as it ought to be with two actors instead of one in the parts of Lucien Laroque and Luversan. Of course Mr. Tree, following the precedent of “The Lyons Mail,” doubles the twain. Equally of course, this expedient completely destroys the  illusion, which requires that two different men should resemble one another so strongly as to be practically indistinguishable except on tolerably close scrutiny; whilst Mr. Tree’s reputation as a master of the art of disguising himself requires that he shall astonish the audience by the extravagant dissimilarity of the two figures he alternately presents. No human being could, under any conceivable circumstances, mistake his Laroque for his Luversan; and I have no doubt that Mr. Tree will take this as the highest compliment I could possibly pay him for this class of work. Nevertheless, I have no hesitation in saying that if the real difficulty—one compared to which mere disguise is child’s play—were faced and vanquished, the interest of the play would be trebled. That difficulty, I need hardly explain, is the presentation to the spectators of a single figure which shall yet be known to them as the work of two distinct actors. As it is, instead of two men in one, we have one man in two, which makes the play incredible as well as impossible.
     However, as I have said, the play serves its turn. The one act into which the doubling business enters for a moment only (a very disastrous moment, by the way) is thoroughly effective, and gives Mr. Tree an opportunity for a remarkable display of his peculiar talent as an imaginative actor. Indeed, he plays so well as the prisoner in the dock that all the applause goes to the bad playing of the advocate who saves himself from the unpleasantness of defending his friend at the expense of his wife’s reputation by the trite expedient of dropping down dead. I dare say this will seem a wanton disparagement of a stage effect which was unquestionably highly successful, and to which Mr. Waller led up by such forcible and sincere acting that his going wrong at the last moment was all the more aggravating. But if to let the broken-hearted Raymond de Noirville suddenly change into Sergeant Buzfuz at the very climax of his anguish was to go wrong, then it seems to me that Mr. Lewis Waller certainly did go wrong. When he turned to the jury and apostrophized them as GENTLEMEN, in a roll of elocutionary thunder, Raymond de Noirville was done for; and it was really Lucien Laroque who held the scene together. The gallery responded promptly enough to Mr. Waller, as the jury always does respond to Sergeant Buzfuz; but I venture to hope that the very noisiness of the applause has by this time convinced him that he ought not to have provoked it.
     By the way, since Mr. Tree is fortunate enough to have his band made so much of as it is by Mr. Raymond Roze, he would, I think, find it economical to lavish a few “extra gentlemen” (or ladies) on the orchestra, even if they had to be deducted from his stage crowd. Two or three additional strings would make all the difference in such works as Mendelssohn’s “Ruy Blas” overture.

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The Westminster Budget (3 December, 1897 - p.11)

REVIVAL OF “A MAN’S SHADOW.”

     Mr. Beerbohm Tree has promised a revival of “Julius Cæsar,” one of the noblest and most neglected of Shakespeare’s tragedies, and consequently even those of us who affect a lofty standard may well forgive a revival of “A Man’s Shadow,” unless, indeed, the piece which thrilled the audience and was received with very great favour should defer too long the production of the Shakespearean play.

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It is easy to see the temptation to produce “A Man’s Shadow,” for the melodrama enables the actor-manager to give an interesting exhibition of his power, and also to present a very popular actor, Mr. Lewis Waller, in a part that is remarkably effective. It will be forgotten by most people that “A Man’s Shadow” is an adaptation by Mr. Robert Buchanan of a French melodrama founded upon a sensational feuilleton which appeared in Le Petit Journal—such a parentage is somewhat awe-inspiring. It was produced at the Haymarket by Mr. Tree successfully in September, 1889, and was noteworthy not only for the cleverness of Mr. Tree’s acting, but also for the hit made by Mr. James Fernandez. Eight years is a long life for an adaptation made in the fashion adopted by Mr. Robert Buchanan, and it is not surprising that the critical groaned sometimes at the crudeness of the workmanship, the mustiness of the technique, and gasped at the efforts at comic relief, intruded, with a colossal want of tact, in the trial scene. At the same time, all must recognise the force of the situations in the second and third acts. It would be difficult to escape a thrill at the scene in which a virtuous woman and her child watch a murder committed on an honourable old man by one who seems to them to be husband and father. Even more effective than this is the position of the advocate, De Noirville, who, when pleading in court for the life of his friend Laroque, by whom his life once was saved, finds suddenly that his client has been the lover of his wife, and that the only way to save his client from an unjust sentence is by proving his own dishonour in court. There seems no reason why we should compare the acting of Mr. Lewis Waller as De Noirville with that of Mr. James Fernandez, and it would be difficult to make the comparison, since the actors represent different schools. Therefore, I limit myself to asserting that Mr. Waller profoundly moved the audience although the keynote of his work was restraint, and he avoided the elaborate facial movements which marked the presentation of the part by the elder actor. The applause and the enthusiastic calls for Mr. Lewis Waller showed how deeply impressed the audience had been by his admirable acting.

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Mr. Tree’s performance in the two parts of Laroque the ill-used hero and Luversan was of remarkable merit. It may be hinted, by way of criticism, that he perhaps differentiated them a little too much, and made it unlikely that those who knew Laroque intimately would be deceived. But possibly this in reality touches a difficult question of what may be called stage optics. The actual presentation of Luversan was a most ingenious piece of character-acting in its suggestion of the low French type of bully, spy, and blackguard. More difficult, however, was the task of presenting the innocent Laroque at his trial. The suggestion of the dazed and broken-down state of the man who had been through that form of modern inquisition which occurs in France before a man is sent for trial on a capital charge was exceedingly fine. And quite as noteworthy is his attitude when his child is put in the witness-box, and also when his friend and advocate is about to sacrifice his honour for his sake. One hardly expects to find acting of such artistic value in melodrama, and it is proportionately the more welcome. I think that Miss Minnie Terry, a very clever child actress whom we have not seen lately, made her first appearance in “A Man’s Shadow,” and it seemed unlikely that another little one barely in her teens should be found successfully to take so difficult a part. But little Miss Dorrie Harris played it amazingly, and not only showed that she understood exactly what she ought to do, but also did it exactly as it ought to be done. Mrs. Beerbohm Tree, in the part of the wife, which she played very well in 1889, shows how valuable has been her advance in the art that she has studied sincerely. One could not help thinking of poor Miss Norreys and her charming performance in the part of Victoire, now played intelligently by Miss Winifred Leon. The play, though professedly but a stop-gap, has been handsomely mounted, and the cast is capital throughout. I think I ought to have mentioned Mr. F. P. Stevens who acted excellently as the police agent.

                                                                                                                                                           E. F. S.

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The Penny Illustrated Paper (4 December, 1897)

“A Man’s Shadow”

(Mr. Robert Buchanan’s translation of “Roger la Honte”) was most enthusiastically received on its revival by Mr. Tree, at Her Majesty’s, last Saturday night. Miserably wet outside, it was most cosy within this admirably managed new theatre. By the opening scene of Lucien Laroque’s introduction by De Noirville to his wife (a former mistress of Laroque), one was irresistibly reminded of the leading incident in “The Tree of Knowledge,” albeit it is not a Tree, but an Alexander who reaps as he sows at the St. James’s. If anything, the impersonation by Mr. Tree of the respectable Lucien and his disreputable double, Luversan, has gained in finish, and in the diablerie of the murderous scoundrel of whose crime Laroque is accused in the tragic trial which ends in his counsel’s sensational death. This last bit of strong characterisation is the best thing Mr. Lewis Waller has done. But the acting that pleased me best of all was the very lifelike Jean Ricordot of Mr. Gerald Du Maurier, and the infinitely pathetic and natural little Suzanne of Miss Dorrie Harris. Admirable in their parts also were Mrs. Tree and Miss Lily Hanbury, Miss Winifred Leon, Mr. Lionel Brough, Mr. E. M. Robson, and Mr. Charles G. Allan, the impressive President. “A Man’s Shadow” deserves to enjoy a fresh lease of popularity.

dorrieharris

[From The English Illustrated Magazine (Vol. XXI, April to September, 1899 - p.178).]

 

The Stage (22 November, 1900 - p.14)

THE BRITANNIA.

     The Britannia management have selected a safe draw for this week in that interesting drama, A Man’s Shadow, which, it will be remembered, Robert Buchanan adapted from the French play Roger La Honte. Not the least interesting features of the narrative which it sets forth are the haunting of Lucien Laroque’s life by his mysterious double, Luversan, for whose crime he is arrested owing to the extraordinary likeness between them; and the dramatic Trial scene in act three, wherein the chainwork of circumstances is wrought into one of the most powerful situations that a dramatist could conceive. Laroque’s counsel discovers that, in order to prove his client and friend guilty of the crime of which he is accused, he (the counsel) must proclaim the shame of his own wife and her guilty connection with Laroque; and in steeling himself to the performance of this terrible duty he falls dead. This scene was presented with real power on Monday by Mr. Edwin Fergusson, who has rarely done better work. His portrayal of De Noirville’s mental suffering and high sense of honour which bade him do his duty at all costs was admirable. Mr. Roy Redgrave is also to be complimented upon the effective and versatile manner in which, in presenting the double rôle of Laroque and Luversan, he portrayed the different natures and manners of the two men—the straightforwardness and candour of Laroque, the brutal cunning and reckless gaiety of Luversan. The contrast was a skilful and well-emphasised one. Mr. Frank Carlile and Mr. Fred Lawrence were highly successful in their respective delineations of those two good-hearted but excitable old soldiers, Picolot and Tristot. From Mr. R. A. Beaton came a sound and forcible study of Lacroix, the police agent. Miss Louisa Peach was in her best vein of emotional power in her well-sustained exposition of Henriette. Miss Judith Kyrie was an excellent and convincing Julie. Victorie was well delineated by Miss Marie Brian. Miss Maud Mead spoke her lines clearly and played well as Suzanne. A capable M. Gerbier came from Mr. J. B. Howe. Mr. B. Johns presented a capital study of Jean Ricordot. Mr. Ronald Douglas was a dignified President of the Court, and Mr. C. Weathersby a satisfactory Advocate-General. The remaining parts were sustained by Messrs. Broughton, Barrett, and Gregory. After the drama, which is well staged, comes variety contributions by Arthur Stacey and Teddy Mosedale, and a display of Bert Bernard’s Rayograph. The programme concludes with The Boarding School, presented by members of the company.

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The Guardian (26 May, 1903 - p.6)

     THE QUEEN’S.—Mr. Robert Buchanan’s drama “A Man’s Shadow” is presented here this week by Mr. Arthur Hare’s company. Mr. Hare himself plays the two parts of the injured hero and the villain, the resemblance between whom is the cause of all the mistakes which go to make the melodrama. The villain is a poor specimen of his kind, but the hero is a strong creation, though we are never allowed to forget for long that he is, after all, only an English translation of a Frenchman. It is through the English eyes indeed, that we are shown the France and the Frenchmen of the whole piece, and the court scene might have been written to cast ridicule upon the judicial procedure of our neighbours. Mr. Hare acted last night with much force, but it was noticed that the necessity which he is under of speaking at short intervals in two different voices produces a huskiness which should hardly be in these grand melodramatic speeches. Miss Sydney Fairbrother performed her important part with an uncommon restraint, and the part undoubtedly gained from her treatment of it. Mr. Bertram Steer was highly successful in the “speech for the defence”—made by an advocate who has just discovered that his wife has addressed to the prisoner a compromising letter,—and the unpleasant part of Julie was well taken by Miss Elise Clarens. The agony is more skilfully heaped up than in the every-day melodrama, but there is a great deal of it.

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The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (12 November, 1904 - p.17)

ACTOR-MANAGERS AT WINDSOR CASTLE—THE “COMMAND”
PERFORMANCES BEFORE THE KING AND QUEEN OF PORTUGAL.

On Thursday next Mr. Beerbohm Tree and his company will perform !A Man’s Shadow<” at Windsor, while the following Saturday will see a rendering of “Monsieur Beaucaire,” by mr. Lewis Waller, Miss Evelyn Millard, &c.

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The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (26 November, 1904 - p.16)

STATE THEATRICALS.

     THERE was a brilliant scene in the Waterloo Chamber of Windsor Castle, on the 17th inst., when, in presence of an audience that numbered such distinguished personages as our own well-beloved King and Queen, their Royal guests, the King and Queen of Portugal, the Prince and Princess of Wales, the princess Victoria, the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, Princess and Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, Prince Arthur, and the Princess Margaret and Victoria Patricia of Connaught, prince Louis of Battenberg, and the princess, and the princesses Victoria and Louise Augusta of Schleswig-Holstein, Mr. Beerbohm Tree and a splendidly organised company, had the honour of appearing in the late Robert Buchanan’s powerful and thrilling drama, A Man’s Shadow, adapted from the French play called Roger la Honte. The performance, which was in all respects thoroughly successful, was followed with evident interest, and reflected the highest credit on Mr. Tree, who played the contrasted parts of Lucien Laroque, the merchant, and Luversan, the villainous spy. His supporters included Mr. James Fernandez, in his fine rendering of the part of Raymond de Noirville, the advocate, Mr. Lionel Brough, and Mr. E. M. Robson as the soldiers, Picolet and Tristet, Mr. Gerald du Maurier—lent by Merely Mary Ann—as Ricordot, Miss Geraldine Wilson as Suzanne, Miss Kate Cutler as Victoria, and Mrs. Brown Potter as Julie. The general arrangements were well carried out under the supervision of Mr. Henry Dana and Mr. George Ashton.
     On Saturday night, before an equally distinguished audience, Mr. Lewis Waller and his company from the Imperial Theatre gave a representation of Monsieur Beaucaire. For the better understanding of the Royal visitors a French synopsis of both plays was prepared by Mr. Arthur Lewis.

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The Illustrated London News (26 November, 1904 - p.15)

THEATRICALS FOR THE KING’S PORTUGUESE GUESTS: A COMMAND PERFORMANCE.

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The Western Daily Press, Bristol (27 March, 1905 - p.7)

“A MAN’S SHADOW”
_____

REVIVED AT HIS MAJESTY’S.
_____

(FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.)

     The revival of this play, adapted from the French by Robert Buchanan, at His Majesty’s Theatre, by Mr Tree, on Saturday, was justified less perhaps by its intrinsic dramatic merits than by the opportunities it affords for emotional acting, and by its effective, though melodramatic, situations. The story of the man who is cursed with a double, who commits a murder in the sight of his wife and child, who believe him guilty, almost exceeds the limits of legitimate stagecraft, but it affords fine scope for the actor. So, too, the situation by which the advocate, called upon to defend his friend, discovers that his defence lies in a compromising letter from his own wife, is very effective, if not quite dramatically convincing. The enthusiasm with which the play was received proved that its power of appealing to an audience, which was demonstrated when it was first produced years ago, is still unaffected, while there is no doubt that Mr Tree’s presentation of the dual parts of Laroque and Luversan has been perfected and finished by the lapse of time. As the unfortunate victim of circumstances, the ill-starred Laroque, Mr Tree is intensely powerful, with a strenuous reticence; whether in resisting the appeal of his old love, or confronting with conscious innocence the first shock of his accusation, or under the sustained stress of the prisoner’s dock, he is profoundly convincing. In the character of the spy, Mr Tree gives a strikingly vivid portrait of degenerate scoundrelism, all the more effective by contrast. As the Advocate Noirville, Mr James Fernandez is very sound, making the points of that part with sure emphasis. Mr Robb Harwood contrives to give exaggerated humour to a small part. Mr Fisher White is a dignified president of the court; Mr S. A. Cookson sketches the police agent with unerring precision; and Mr E. M. Robson is excellent as Tristot. As the much-tried wife of Laroque, Miss Lillah McCarthy is admirable, playing with much force and finish. Miss Constance Collier is a satisfactory Julie, and Miss Kate Cutler makes the part of the maid distinctive; while the child Suzanne is well represented by Miss Geraldine Wilson.

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The Illustrated London News (1 April, 1905 - p.3)

“A MAN’S SHADOW,” AT THE HAYMARKET.

Nearly sixteen years have elapsed since “A Man’s Shadow,” as Mr. Robert Buchanan called his improved version of “Roger la Honte,” first thrilled a London audience at the Haymarket Theatre. It achieved its success, older playgoers will remember, mainly by reason of the sensational effects of its trial-scene—the false evidence, that is to say, of the little child who refuses to incriminate her father, and the sudden death of the barrister who, to save a client wrongly accused of murder, is on the point of revealing his wife’s sin and his own dishonour. These sensational effects make quite as strong an appeal now that the play is revived at His Majesty’s as they did in the old days of Mr. Tree’s Haymarket management, and “A Man’s Shadow” will be once more voted a good, stirring melodrama of the fairly plausible kind, especially as it is once more in its leading parts most admirably acted. For happily Mr. Fernandez is able to repeat his old triumph in his original character of Raymond de Noirville, and still shows in the advocate’s speech his old declamatory and emotional power; while Mr. Tree doubles the rôles which recall so markedly those of the similar hero and villain of “The Lyons Mail” with just the right suggestions of resemblance of physiognomy and difference of character. The comic relief of the piece is safe in the hands of Mr. Lionel Brough and Mr. E. M. Robson; and Miss Constance Collier, Miss Lillah McCarthy, and Miss Kate Cutler complete adequately enough the present cast at His Majesty’s.

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The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (1 April, 1905 - p.32)

HIS MAJESTY’S THEATRE.

     MR. TREE, on the 24th ult., at a matinée here, repeated his recent Oxford experiment, and presented Hamlet without scenery. It will be remembered that he was encouraged by the prophetic utterances of Sir Edward Clarke, who, speaking some time since at a theatrical dinner, remarked that is the actor-manager would play the Shakesperean tragedy without the assistance of the scenic artist he would achieve the greatest success of his professional career. We regarded this deliverance as mere moonshine, as the kind of flattery that comes very frequently with after-dinner oratory, and we fully expected that another speaker would suggest the representation of Shakespeare without costumes. It is to be said, though, that Hamlet suffered very little by being played with only draperies for surroundings, and that in certain scenes the effect was even heightened by the magnificent curtains which the actor-manager was able to command. Mr. Tree’s Hamlet, which, with scenery, was the attraction again on Monday evening, commanded the general admiration, and a highly interesting performance was the Ophelia of Miss Beatrice Forbes Robertson.
     On Saturday evening last was revived A Man’s Shadow, the adaptation by the late Robert Buchanan of Roger la Honte, which was brought out at the Haymarket about sixteen years ago. The present revival, we may suppose, was suggested by the success which attended the representation in November last, when Mr. Tree took his company to Windsor by Royal command for the entertainment of the King an d Queen of Portugal, who were the guests of our well-beloved Sovereign. In A Man’s Shadow Mr. Tree “doubles” the parts of Luversan and Lucien Laroque, who, bearing to him a remarkable resemblance, is brought to trial for the crimes the scoundrel has committed and stands in peril of his life. Mr. Tree is exactly in his element with this sort of work, and on Saturday added to the success of long ago. The most powerful feature of the drama comes with the trial scene, where Raymond de Noirville, the advocate, makes an eloquent appeal on Lucien’s behalf, and falls dead at the moment when he is about to disclose to the jury the name of the woman who supplied the money that stands in blackest evidence against the accused. Lucien has refused to tell, for the woman was once his mistress, and is the wife of the man who is pleading for his life. Here is a fine chance for the representative of Raymond de Noirville, and when we say that the part was once more taken up by Mr. James Fernandez, it will be understood that it had grand treatment and made a great impression on the house. The “comic relief” was cleverly put in by Messrs. Lionel Brough and E. M. Robson as Lucien’s soldier friends. Mr. J. Fisher White was excellent as President of the Court. Miss Lillah McCarthy, as Henriette, the wife, and Miss Geraldine Wilson, as the child of Lucien, beguiled the audience of their tears; Miss Constance Collier was eminently satisfactory as the wicked Julie, and useful support was given by Mr. S. A. Cookson as Lacroix, the police agent, and Miss Kate Cutler as Victoire, the serving-maid, with a twice divided duty.

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[Advert for A Man’s Shadow from the Daily Mail (6 April, 1905 - p.4).]

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[Poster for A Man’s Shadow at the Grand Theatre, Leeds, 7th June, 1909.
Click the image for a larger version.]

 

From Herbert Beerbohm Tree: Some Memories of Him and of His Art collected by Max Beerbohm (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1920), from the section, ‘Herbert and I’ by Maud Tree, p.43:

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p.45-46:

     Immediately upon our return, we must have plunged into hard work; the long and difficult rehearsals of A Man’s Shadow, Mr. Sydney Grundy’s version of Roger la Honte. In this, Herbert accomplished one of the many of his amazing tours de force—doubling the parts of Luversan and Laroque. The play was produced on September 12th, and was an immense success. Herbert’s double performance was startling in its perfection; whether as the bewildered and tortured hero (Oh, how exactly like himself was Herbert in his tender, agonized appeal to his little child, who unconsciously condemned him! The tears of blood in his eyes and in his voice!); or as the debauched, absinthe-sodden villain, with his harsh, satiric singing:

msbiosong

     Minnie Terry, a child of eight, was the exquisite little exponent of Suzanne, with the historic phrase, “I saw nothing—I heard nothing.” That daughter of the gods, divinely fair, brilliant Julia Neilson, was the “wicked woman,” and what a wonder of beauty she was! Gifted to an inordinate degree, and born with the dramatic sense, she, an amateur, had nothing to learn. Indeed, her fault in those days, if she had a fault, was that her acting was too technical for her years.

     An isolated entry in the aforesaid blue diary tells me:
         December 16. Hundredth performance of A Man’s Shadow
                                
—Herbert has man’s supper-party—
                                 Irving makes touching speech in honour of Herbert’s father.

p.48-49:

     The Village Priest followed A Man’s Shadow, which was attended on its last night (in April) by Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone.
     Mr. Gladstone came on to the stage after the play, and asked as to the political opinions of the theatrical world. Herbert answered, “Conservative, on the whole; but,” he added hastily, as he saw a darkening in his distinguished visitor’s face, “the scene-shifters are Radical almost to a man.” They parted firm friends.

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[From the Daily Mail (11 December, 1920 - p.1).]

 

Part of the programme (courtesy of ebay) for a performance at the New Theatre, Pontypridd in September, 1922:

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ponty2

 

The American production of Roger la Honte; or, A Man’s Shadow

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