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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THEATRE REVIEWS

48. The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown (1895)

 

The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown
by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe (Harriett Jay).
London: Vaudeville Theatre. 26 June to 5 October, 1895.
London: Terry’s Theatre. 7 October, 1895 to 8 February, 1896.
New York: Standard Theatre. 2 December, 1895 to 8 February, 1896.
Rotterdam. Tivoli Theatre. 25 December, 1895 (under the title, De lotgevallen van Juffrouw Trilbie).
Other performances:
London: Court Theatre. 23 September, 1901.

Novelisation: The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown by Harriett Jay (London: R. Buchanan, 1897).
In 1909 The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown was published in the series, French’s International Copyrighted Edition of the Works of the Best Authors, no. 163. Available at the Internet Archive.

A musical version, Tulip Time, was also produced in 1935 and had a successful run in London.

An adaptation of The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown by Peggy Ann Wood of the Rapier Players was produced at Bristol’s Little Theatre for two weeks beginning 23rd December, 1958, under the title, The Amazing Adventures of Miss Brown.

brownposter03

[Tour poster advertising The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown, 1895.]

 

The Yorkshire Evening Post (20 April, 1895 - p.3)

     Miss Brown is the striking title of a new farcical comedy by Robert Buchanan and Henry Murray. The intention of the authors is to exploit it themselves in London.

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The Stage (6 June, 1895 - p.9)

     Referring to the vague paragraphs which have recently gone the round of the Press in regard to the plans of the Vaudeville, I am enabled to give you the true story. Mr. Weedon Grossmith, instead of going out of his way to give more or less uninteresting reasons for his decision, says frankly that his present play does not satisfy the box-office, and his new piece—concerning which he is not ready to give any detail for publication—not being ready, he has decided to close his season on Saturday, June 15, and has sub-let the theatre to Mr. Frederick Kerr, who will produce on Wednesday, the 19th, Robert Buchanan’s new farcical comedy Miss Brown, the existence of which I told you some weeks ago. Mr. Grossmith wishes it known that he has no intention of surrendering his lease, and will re-open later on with his new play. Meanwhile Mr. Henderson will, of course, remain in his present capacity during Mr. Kerr’s short season.
     In the cast of Miss Brown will be found, among others, Mr. F. Kerr, Mr. Lionel Brough, Mr. Gilbert Farquhar, Mr. Beauchamp; Misses May Palfrey, Gladys Homphrey, Esmé Beringer, Murray, Dudley, and M. A. Victor.

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The Dundee Courier (6, June 1895 - p.3)

     Mr Robert Buchanan will furnish the inaugural piece for the new management of the Vaudeville Theatre. It will take the form of a farcical comedy, in which Mr Lionel Brough, Mr John Beauchamp, and Mr Fred Kerr will appear in conjunction with Miss May Palfrey (Mrs Weedon Grossmith). Although Mr Buchanan has hitherto worked mainly as an adapter of Fielding’s and Richardson’s novels, his power as a sarcastic writer was shown in that mordant satire of the Ibsenian drama, “A Gifted Lady,” produced at the Avenue Theatre two years ago. The result is partly that plays “made in Norway” no longer arouse interest in London.

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The Sheffield Evening Telegraph and Star (12 June, 1895 - p.2)

missbrowncharley

The Dundee Evening Telegraph (13 June, 1895 - p.2)

     Mr Robert Buchanan’s name, which has not been since “The Charlatan” upon the bill of a London theatre, will shortly reappear attached to the new farcical comedy “Miss Brown,” which is to be produced at the Vaudeville about the middle of next week, with Mr Lionel Brough and Miss M. A. Victor in prominent parts. Mr Buchanan will shortly be seen in a new light as editor of a fresh monthly magazine devoted largely to literature and the stage.

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The Stage (13 June, 1895 - p.9)

     The new piece by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe originally called Miss Brown, of the production of which at the Vaudeville on June 20 I was the first to inform you, has been re-christened The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown. This reads as if the authors were taking a leaf out of Mr. H. A. Jones’s book of titles.

     The full cast is as follows, and Mr. Buchanan’s synopsis of the various acts is too good reading to be lost in a programme, so I find a place for it here:—Miss Romney (of Cicero House Academy), Miss M. A. Victor; Angela Brightwell (Miss May Palfrey), Euphemia Schwartz (Miss Esme Beringer), Matilda Jones (Miss Daisy Brough), Millicent Loveridge (Miss Ethel Watson) (borders at Cicero House), Clara Loveridge, Miss Grace Dudley; Mrs. O’Gallagher, Miss Gladys Homfrey; Emma, Miss Marion Murray; Major O’Gallagher (of the 41st Lancers), Mr. John Beauchamp; Private Docherty (of the 41st Lancers), Mr. L. Power; Herr von Moser (music master), Mr. Robb Harwood; Mr. Hibbertson (solicitor), Mr. Gilbert Farquhar; Sergeant Tanner (of Scotland Yard), Mr. Lionel Brough; Captain Courtenay (of the 41st Lancers), Mr. Frederick Kerr. Act one, in which Miss Brown makes an unexpected appearance at Major O’Gallagher’s quarters, Chelmsford—the Wedding. Act two, in which Miss Brown is guilty of most unladylike behaviour at Miss Romney’s academy, Cicero House, Chichester—the Honeymoon. Act three: Miss Brown makes a most astounding confession, and departs for ever from Cicero House—amazing apotheosis of Miss Brown. The business management will be in the hands of Mr. A. F. Henderson.

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The Era (15 June, 1895)

     THE cast of Mr Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe’s new and original farcical play, The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown, to be produced by Mr Frederick Kerr at the Vaudeville Theatre on Thursday next, is as follows:—Miss Romney, Miss M. A. Victor; Angela Brightwell, Miss May Palfrey; Euphemia Schwartz, Miss Esme Beringer; Matilda Jones, Miss Daisy Brough; Millicent Loveridge, Miss Ethel Watson; Clara Loveridge, Miss Grace Dudley; Mrs O’Gallagher, Miss Gladys Homfrey; Emma, Miss Marion Murray; Major O’Gallagher, Mr John Beauchamp; Private Docherty, Mr L. Power; Herr Von Moser, Mr Robb Harwood; Mr Hibbertson, Mr Gilbert Farquhar; Sergeant Tanner, Mr Lionel Brough; and Captain Courtenay, Mr Frederick Kerr. In the first act Miss Brown makes an unexpected appearance at Major O’Gallagher’s quarters, Chelmsford; in the second she is guilty of most unladylike behaviour at Miss Romney’s Academy, Cicero House, Chichester; and in the third she makes a most astounding confession and departs for ever from Cicero House. The business management of the theatre will be in the hands of Mr A. F. Henderson.

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The Daily News (15 June, 1895 - p.5)

     Mr. Frederick Kerr’s season at the Vaudeville will commence on Thursday evening next with a new and original farcical play in three acts, describing “The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown.” The authors, Mr. Robert Buchanan and Mr. Charles Marlowe, label their acts respectively “The Wedding,” “The Honeymoon,” and “Amazing Apotheosis of Miss Brown.” After the fashion of Fielding and Cervantes, they also provide each division of their work with a brief synopsis or “argument,” thus: “Act I. In which Miss Brown makes an unexpected appearance at Major O’Gallagher’s Quarters, Chelmsford.” “Act II. In which Miss Brown is guilty of most unladylike behaviour at Miss Romney’s Academy, Cicero House, Colchester;” and “Act III. In which Miss Brown makes an astounding confession, and departs for ever from Cicero House.” The circumstance that no “Miss Brown” figures in the list of personages is probably to be explained by the fact that “Miss Brown” is only an assumed name. The leading parts will be played by Miss M. A. Victor, Mr. Lionel Brough, Mr. John Beauchamp, Mr. Frederick Kerr, Miss Mary Palfrey, and Miss Esmé Beringer.

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The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (15 June, 1895 - p.14)

     IT is always a difficult matter to follow up a huge success like The New Boy, and Messrs. Arthur Lane and Weedon Grossmith have not quite accomplished the feat in The Ladies’ Idol, which accordingly comes off at the Vaudeville after a comparatively short career. But Mr. Grossmith, while taking a rest and holiday before his contemplated autumn production has readily found a sub-tenant for the popular little house, which temporarily passes into the hands of Mr. F. Kerr, a young actor-manager, who, with the usual small syndicate at his back, is to begin operations in a few days’ time with a new piece by Mr. Robert Buchanan. This piece is a light or farcical comedy, which was, we believe, written some time ago, and, under the title The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown illustrates the doings of a youth who through “circumstances over which he has no control” has to figure for awhile as a school-girl and gets mixed up in some awkward but harmless complications through the mistake as to Miss Brown’s sex. This, at any rate, is what gossip says of the plot, which will include among its exponents Mr. Lionel Brough, whom one would be very glad to see back in a good part, Mr. Gilbert Farquhar, Miss May Palfrey and Miss M. A. Victor, as well of course as Mr. Kerr himself.

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The Daily News (21 June, 1895 - p.5)

     As already noted in our columns, Mr. Frederick Kerr was to have opened the Vaudeville Theatre last night with an original farcical comedy entitled “The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown,” by Messrs. Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe. Unfortunately yesterday morning it was found to be imperatively necessary to postpone the new play, Mr. Kerr being afflicted with a total loss of voice consequent upon a severe cold.

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The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (22 June, 1895 - p.11)

     TOO late for notice here the commencement of Mr. F. H. Kerr’s season at the Vaudeville was announced for Thursday, when, by way of first piece, there was underlined a comedietta deriving some interest from the fact that it was to re-introduce Miss Adela Measor and her husband, Mr. John Buckstone, after a long absence in the United States. Miss Measor will be remembered by many as a young actress who was giving a good deal of promise a few years ago. Of the nature of the piece of the evening, which is called The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown, it is not difficult to gain a fairly accurate idea from the statement that the supposed Miss Brown has Mr. Kerr for her representative, and from the official description of the several acts which show how “how Miss Brown makes an unexpected appearance at Major Gallagher’s quarters,” “how she is guilty of most unladylike behaviour at Miss Romney’s Academy,” and, finally, “how she makes a most astounding confession and departs for ever from Cicero House.” All this strongly suggests a variant of the Charley’s Aunt theme; and much must depend, of course, upon the delicacy of the humorous treatment of a motive which may either be as innocent as Lord Fancourt Babberly’s in his impersonation of the lady from the Brazils, or as risqué as Don Juan’s in his introduction as Juanna to Dudu. What Messrs. Buchanan and Marlowe have made of the matter remains to be discussed next week.

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The Newcastle Courant (22 June, 1895 - p.5)

     Theatrical London, ever athirst for novelty, is now delighting itself in two new plays, “A Practical Joker” and “The Prude’s Progress,” both charmingly vacuous, and therefore pecuniarily successful. Mr Harry Nicholls returns from his illness to “The Girl he Left behind” at the Adelphi. Mr Hare is shortly to start for America with his “Pair of Spectacles” and a strong company. Madame Rehane prepares a French feast. Robert Buchanan seems to find the best palliative for his financial misfortunes in work, and, like a plucky Briton, returns to the fray with a new play to be mounted before long. Mr Clement Scott is industriously occupied in the discovery of genius. He has lighted his perspicuous candle and gone forth into the dramatic darkness for amateurs to supply the vital wants created by the insufficiencies of the established writers. And, truly, dramatic genius must be very scarce if wants so manifest are to remain permanently unsupplied. This rather constructive effort on the part of Mr Clement Scott is, whether conscious or unconscious, an effective piece of criticism. Mr Archer’s select “three acres” in the West-End, where the drama is grown, has been singularly sterile of serious product lately; and any effort to bring this home to the established cultivators is welcome.

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The Times (27 June, 1895 - p.6)

VAUDEVILLE THEATRE.

     The humour of Charley’s Aunt has proved contagious. Another young gentleman is now masquerading in women’s clothes on the stage: for this is the theme of The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown, given last night at the Vaudeville at the instance of Mr. Robert Buchanan and Mr. Charles Marlowe. It is a theme necessarily bordering upon the vulgar or the risky, but it is handled by the authors, and by the false “Miss Brown” herself—namely, Mr. Frederick Kerr—with sufficient tact to pass muster; and the cordiality of its reception by the first-night public augurs a successful run for the piece. Among the young ladies attending a select boarding establishment is a certain ward in Chancery who has profited by some laxity of discipline to get married to a gallant captain in the Army. The escapade is almost immediately discovered, and Miss Angela—for such is the young lady’s name—brought back to school. The Lord Chancellor, however, has to be reckoned with, and a Scotland-yard detective is deputed to arrest the male offender. Meanwhile, the captain, with the connivance of a brother officer, makes up in female attire as “Miss Brown,” and obtains admission to the establishment as a boarder also, in order to be near his bride and to plan an escape for both. It is at this juncture that the somewhat broad fun of the piece attains its maximum. Mr. Kerr, who has the interim management of the theatre, adopts as his rather transparent disguise a ludicrous short-skirted school frock, with a sailor hat and a flaming head of red hair, and his movements are a source of continued merriment to the house. Although the bride has no difficulty in penetrating the secret, the other young ladies, together with the detective, are deceived, and even the lady principal of the school observes nothing amiss with the new pupil except that she is a little gauche. Eventually the nocturnal escape is planned, and so far carried out that both the detective and an amorous German music-master, who is on the watch to protect his favourite pupil, are overpowered in a scrimmage which brings all the inmates of the school upon the scene, with candles and in their night-dresses. In the third and last act the terrible “Miss Brown,” who has done prodigies of athleticism, is brought back to the school handcuffed but still undetected as to her sex, the charge being that of aiding and abetting the bride to escape; and when at last the dread discovery is made that “Miss Brown’s” box is full of male clothing, and that she is in truth the captain in disguise, it is reported that she or he has just succeeded to a peerage—a circumstance which it is thought will mollify the Lord Chancellor, and which consequently allows of a happy ending. Mr. Kerr’s disguise is humorous enough to dispense him from saying much, which is fortunate, seeing that he is quite unable to adapt his voice to the situation; but there is otherwise an abundance of dialogue, which, if not as polished as one might expect in a piece to which Mr. Buchanan had put his name, is at least on a level with the subject. Miss May Palfrey makes a bright and engaging bride, and the piece enjoys the services, further, of Mr. Lionel Brough as the detective; Miss M. A. Victor as the lady principal; Miss Esmé Beringer as an amorous pupil who unaccountably takes to the companionship of “Miss Brown,” thereby arousing the bride’s jealousy; Mr. Beauchamp as the brother officer; and Mr. Gilbert Farquhar as an elderly solicitor.

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The Morning Post (27 June, 1895 - p.3)

VAUDEVILLE THEATRE.
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     In “The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown,” produced last night under the interim management of Mr. Frederick Kerr, Messrs. Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe, the authors, have presented us with a “farcical play” simple alike in plot and in humour. Captain Courtenay, a young officer of the Lancers, has fallen in love with and proposed to Angela Brightwell, a ward in Chancery and an inmate of Miss Romney’s boarding-school for young ladies. One day Angela eludes her teacher’s vigilance, and, with the aid of her uncle, Major O’Gallagher, gets married to Courtenay. Miss Romney and her legal adviser are, however, upon their track, and it is found advisable for the girl to return to Miss Romney’s establishment, the Captain having meanwhile, to escape detection, donned feminine attire, assumed the personality of a pseudo niece of O’Gallagher, and taken the name of Brown. Under that name and guise he is introduced into the school as a pupil, and then and there arranges to carry off his wife. Angela’s guardian has, however, called in the assistance of the law, and a detective from Scotland-yard spends the night at the school in order to ensnare and capture the captain. As it happens, Angela gets safe away, but the captain, in the character of Miss Brown, is caught by the detective, handcuffed, and brought back to the school. In the meantime, through the death of a relative, Courtenay has succeeded to a title and estates, and when the curtain falls it is understood that Angela’s guardian will regard her accession to the rank of Countess as excusing her defiance of legal enactments and requirements. Nothing could be clearer or more intelligible than all this, and though it is evolved without special ingenuity or comicality, it gave evident pleasure last night to a crowded audience. The authors were duly called, but it was announced that they were not in the house. The rôle of Captain Courtenay had been sustained by Mr. Kerr, who was more happy in his masculine than in his feminine habiliments. It cannot, in truth, be said that he looked the school-girl to the life; it is, indeed, doubtful whether in that guise he could have deceived anybody, male or female, for a moment. Much more successful was Miss May Palfrey, as Angela, in exciting the sympathy and approbation of the public; she played throughout with vivacity and aplomb, and infused spirit into every scene in which she appeared. Mr. Beauchamp made of the Major an effective character-sketch. Miss Gladys Homfrey was no less admirable in the smaller part of his wife, and Mr. Lionel Brough furnished a delightful portrait of a detective who thinks himself much more knowing than he is. The Miss Romney of Miss Victor and the solicitor of Mr. Gilbert Farquhar were excellent conceptions excellently carried out. Mr. Robb Harwood assigned individuality to a German music writer, in love with Angela, and Miss Esmé Beringer, as a hot-headed young foreigner who “takes” to the supposed Miss Brown showed once more how considerable is her versatility. The piece, in fact, has every justice done to it both as regards the acting and the scenic setting.

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The Standard (27 June, 1895 - p.3)

VAUDEVILLE THEATRE.
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     When applied to a theatrical production, the words “new and original” may mean anything or nothing. The formula is used by Messrs. Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe to describe a farce brought out at the Vaudeville last night under the title of The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown; but, in truth, the only novelty or originality consists in the idea of mixing together three well-known pieces, and with the aid of one or two notions borrowed from French farces that have not yet come to London—the situation at the end of the second act, for instance—presenting the conglomeration with a fresh name. The success of Charley’s Aunt has, doubtless, led to the invention of Miss Brown. The authors have drawn liberally upon The New Boy, and they have freely helped themselves to the libretto of Messrs. Conan Doyle and  J. M. Barrie’s Savoy opera, Jane Annie; and the result is set forth as new and original. The man who disguises himself in petticoats after the fashion of the hero of Mr. Brandon Thomas’s play is a Captain of Lancers; he goes to school, as the New Boy did in Mr. Law’s play, and there are attempts at abduction, alarums and excursions, as in the play of Messrs. Doyle and Barrie, the scene of which was also a girls’ school. It will be perceived that the authors cannot be congratulated on their imagination. Courtenay, the Captain of Lancers, has married a ward in Chancery—Mr. W. S. Gilbert, by the way, has dealt with the pains and penalties attaching to the offence—and is supposed to be in terror of the police, for a Sergeant invades the barracks, and treats the Major in command in a style that has no relation to real life. The bride is taken back to her school, and Courtenay, in female attire, goes to join her (the “new girl” instead of the “new boy”), instigated and supported by the Major, who is an Irishman, for no ascertainable reason except that it is customary to have Irishmen in farces. It has been so, indeed, for a century and more, notwithstanding the fact that for the last half of that period everyone has quite understood that the appearance of an Irishman when there is no motive for his nationality (as here) is a tacit admission that the author hopes by the employment of brogue to atone for the lack of wit.
     Mr. Frederick Kerr, the temporary manager of the theatre, plays Courtenay, and creates much laughter by his proceedings when in feminine attire, passing as Miss Brown. Mr. Lionel Brough does all that is possible as the policeman who suddenly appears to arrest Courtenay. Mr. Brough is a sterling comedian, and misses no chance of effect, but his Sergeant is so far removed from possibilities by the authors that the actor’s task is a hard one. Miss May Palfrey plays prettily as the runaway bride, and sound assistance is rendered by Mr. Robb Harwood as Herr von Moser, an amorous music master; Mr. Gilbert Farquhar as Hibbertson, a solicitor; Mr. J. Beauchamp as Major O’Gallagher; Miss M. A. Victor as the schoolmistress; Miss Gladys Homfrey as Mrs. O’Gallagher; and Miss Esmé Beringer as a romantic school girl. It should, perhaps, be added that the audience not only overlooked the manifold plagiarisms, but laughed at and applauded the pot pourri.

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St. James’s Gazette (27 June, 1895 - p.12)

VAUDEVILLE THEATRE.

MR. FRED KERR, the latest addition to the ever-growing and, it might be added, constantly diminishing number of London managers, has apparently the courage of his opinions. Dissolution may be in the air, the end of the season within easy distance, the weather at melting-point; but despite these untoward circumstances he boldly undertakes the production of a new piece upon the success of which he does not hesitate to stake his fortunes. And if subsequent audiences prove as enthusiastic as last night’s public at the Vaudeville, Mr. Kerr will certainly have no cause to regret his rashness. Farces more consistently amusing than “The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown” have, perhaps, been seen; but this is not to say that Messrs. Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe’s piece did not deserve the hearty reception accorded to it. The initial idea is sufficiently droll, if a trifle risky and not altogether novel. For “Miss Brown” is only too obviously a near relation of “Charley’s Aunt,” and may also claim as close connections “The Magistrate,” “Pickwick,” and other more or less celebrated characters. The authors, notwithstanding, have succeeded, after their patchwork fashion, in putting together a fairly ingenious and amusing piece, containing some really humorous ideas, and some that are not humorous. An exhaustive analysis would probably reveal that the latter are somewhat more numerous than the former; but, without entering upon such an invidious measure, it is sufficient to say that the whole provides a bright and exhilarating evening’s entertainment. The mere suggestion of a dashing cavalry officer, attired in girl’s clothes, forcing his way into a young ladies’ seminary and engaging the confidence of one of its inmates, has a certain unpalatable flavour about it. So discreetly, however, have the authors handled the subject that none need fear to find any offence in their manner of treatment. Be it said, also, that their hero, Captain Courtenay, has abundant justification for the step, inasmuch as he is bent upon rescuing his newly-made bride from the clutches of her jealous guardians. How he is pounced upon by a modernized Dogberry, how he breaks away only to be brought back ignominiously, and how finally he is permitted to take his pretty little wife to his arms, will be found by the curious duly set forth in “The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown.” For the interpretation of the story, Mr. Kerr, who is far too shrewd not to appreciate the importance of a capable cast, has got together an excellent company, whose bustling performance would alone justify a visit to the Vaudeville. Of its member, although the part assigned to her is comparatively a small one, we are disposed to give a prominent place to Miss Esme Beringer. By dint of hard work and natural intelligence, this young actress has won her way with exceptional rapidity to the front, and her acting last night fully confirms the impression created on previous occasions, that in her we have one of the most promising leading ladies of the future. Miss Beringer has a sweet and resonant voice; her cleverness is undeniable, and she thoroughly understands how to make her points. The two things she has to guard against at present are an excess of energy and a tendency towards over-expression. But these slight defects excepted, she possesses all the qualities required to make a fine emotional actress. As a muddle-headed Scotland-yard officer Mr. Lionel Brough, by his drily humorous manner, scored one of the chief successes of the evening; while Mr. Fred Kerr, as the supposititious Miss Brown, played with all necessary tact and discretion. Miss May Palfrey made so bright and charming a Ward in Chancery that even the most hard-hearted Lord Chancellor might have excused Captain Courtenay for running away with her. To Miss M. A. Victor, Miss Gladys Homfrey, Mr. J. Beauchamp, Mr. Robb Harwood (altogether admirable in a small character-part), and Mr. G. Farquhar, every credit is also due for their effective performances. In the absence of the authors, Mr. Kerr, appearing before the curtain, undertook to convey to them the gratifying news of the cordial reception given to their piece.

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The Globe (27 June, 1895 - p.3)

“MISS BROWN” AT THE VAUDEVILLE.

     A young military man, with nothing but his pay, falls in love with a school-girl, who is a ward in Chancery; the girl elopes with him, and they marry. They are pursued by the schoolmistress and the damsel’s guardian, and, to escape arrest, the husband shaves his moustache and dons feminine attire. In that guise, and as a “Miss Brown,” he is introduced by a sympathetic uncle into the school, to which his young wife has been sent back; the two arrange to run away that evening, but, though the girl gets clear off, her spouse, still dressed as “Miss Brown,” is captured. Then comes word that the husband has inherited a title and an income, and we are left to suppose that the wife’s guardian will now make no objection to the marriage.
     Such, in outline, is the plot of the new “farcical play,” by Messrs. Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe, produced at the Vaudeville last night. The scheme is not conspicuous for originality, nor are the details of the action particularly humorous. There is some promise of fun when the young officer has to face his wife’s fellow-pupils, and when one of them develops a strong affection for the newcomer—an affection which the wife naturally resents. But it cannot be said that the scenes in which “Miss Brown” figures are so mirth-provoking as they might have proved had Mr. Frederick Kerr been more successful in his assumption of feminine garb and manner. His disguise was not at all convincing, and one felt that the sharp-witted school-girls would have detected the imposture instantly. Much more diverting were the passages in which Mr.Lionel Brough figured as a foolish, but complacent detective. This man keeps watch in the school in the hope of discovering and arresting the captain, but is circumvented by the young couple, and dragged far across country by “Miss Brown” before he succeeds in securing him. The mingled weak-mindedness, self-confidence, and bonhomie of this character are portrayed by Mr. Brough with quiet and effective ease, and arouse a good deal of hearty laughter. Clever and diverting, too, is Mr. John Beauchamp’s sketch of the good-natured uncle, whose wife, ably represented by Miss Gladys Homfrey, might well be made more prominent than she is. Miss May Palfrey is lively and sparkling as the courageous young wife, Miss M. A. Victor is characteristically quaint as the schoolmistress, Mr. Farquhar’s guardian is a sound piece of comic acting, and Miss Esmé Beringer’s impersonation of a demure but passionate and mischievous school-girl is marked by intelligence and skill.
     The piece was received last night with every sign of favour, and at the close there was a unanimous call for the authors, who, however, were ”not in the house.”

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The Guardian (27 June, 1895 - p.7)

     “The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown,” produced this evening at the Vaudeville Theatre, is an attempt by Messrs. Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe to “go one better” than “Charley’s Aunt.” Captain Courtenay, a cavalry officer, has married a ward in Chancery, but the minions of the law have got on his track on the very day of the wedding, and he has been obliged to disguise himself in female attire in order to elude them. The bride is sent back to the boarding school from which she has run away, and the success of the gallant captain’s disguise suggests the idea that he should assume it once more in order to rejoin his wife in the seclusion of Cicero House and carry her off therefrom. The style of situation which results from this imbroglio may readily be divined. The authors have steered tolerably clear of the offensive possibilities of such a theme, but on the other hand they have shown very little invention in the development of their idea. The audience, however, was in excellent humour, and laughed and applauded liberally. Mr. Fred Kerr, who has taken over the management of the theatre, played the supposed Miss Brown; Miss May Palfrey was very bright as the schoolgirl bride; Mr. Lionel Brough was good as an idiotic detective; and other parts were cleverly played by Mr. Beauchamp, Miss Gladys Homfrey, and Miss Esmé Beringer.

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The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser (27 June, 1895 - p.5)

     The warm greeting given to the new comedy, “The Strange Adventures of Mrs. Brown,” this evening, at the Vaudeville Theatre, was, I fancy, as much intended to mark the return of a popular author to stage work as a recognition of particular merit in the piece, which is an audacious farce, risky in tone, yet clever and extremely amusing throughout. Mr. Robert Buchanan has done very much better work, and the broadly farcical character of this production has not the merit of being sustained, for interest languishes considerably during the last act. The nature of the piece may be gathered from the fact that the amusement is derived from the presence of a handsome cavalry officer in a young ladies’ school, masquerading in female attire in order to be near a ward in Chancery whom he has secretly married.

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The Dundee Courier (28 June, 1895 - p.3)

     “Charley’s Aunt” has found a promising rival in “Miss Brown.” “The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown” is the title of a three-act farce by Robert Buchanan, which I attended upon its production last night at the Vaudeville. The theatre so famous in connection with the four years’ run of “Our Boys” has been taken for this play by Mr Fred Kerr, who is even more unique as a comedian than Mr Penley. Miss Brown is really a young cavalry officer, who, having married a schoolgirl, a ward in Chancery, visits his wife at her school himself dressed as a new lady border. The complications, aided by an Irish major of Dragoons, and with Lionel Brough as a detective from Scotland Yard, are delightfully diverting.

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The Era (29 June, 1895 - p.8)

     EVERYBODY knows Miss Schwartz in Vanity Fair; therefore Miss Schwartz in Vanity Fair is known to Mr Robert Buchanan and Mr Charles Marlow—or Mrs or Miss Charles Marlow, for sexes are not always what they seem, and to the public “Charles Marlow” is but the shadow of a name. No one can blame the newer authors for having taken a hint—even an entire personage—from the older; but why this needless candour? A name must be a simple thing for a writer of Mr Buchanan’s fertility to invent. The lady’s comely blackness might, with no great effort, have been suggested by some other means as simple and direct even as the employment of a German adjective for her surname.

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(p.9)

STRANGE ADVENTURES OF MISS BROWN.
_____

A New and Original Farcical Play, in Three Acts,
by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe,
Produced at the Vaudeville Theatre, on Wednesday, June 26th.

Miss Romney    ....................     Miss M. A. VICTOR
Angela Brightwell  ..................    Miss MAY PALFREY
Euphemia Schwartz  ...............     Miss ESME BERINGER
Matilda Jones      ....................    Miss DAISY BROUGH
Millicent Loveridge  ................    Miss JAY HOLFORD
Clara Loveridge  ....................     Miss GRACE DUDLEY
Mrs O’Gallagher  ...................    Miss GLADYS HOMFREY
Emma                 ....................     Miss MARION MURRAY
Major O’Gallagher  ................     Mr J. BEAUCHAMP
Private Docherty   ...................     Mr POWER
Herr von Moser   ...................    Mr ROBB HARWOOD
Mr Hibbertson      ...................     Mr GILBERT FARQUHAR
Sergeant Tanner  ...................    Mr LIONEL BROUGH
Captain Courtenay .................    Mr FREDERICK KERR

     To say that The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown “proved acceptable” at the Vaudeville Theatre on Wednesday night is to exactly describe the impression produced. We have had, of late, rather a glut of serious plays; and a sad tale saddens doubly when it—the weather, not the narrative—is warm. We turned on Wednesday with cheerful alacrity and a certain feeling of relief to Messrs Buchanan and Marlowe’s adroit concoction, with its good, old-fashioned farcical business, its irresistible frivolity, and its pretty young ladies in creamy attire well suited to the prevailing temperature, and suggestive of an airy coolness much to be desired. Pleasing mystery is ever present to lend piquancy to scenes in the interior of a young ladies’ school, and what with the excellent acting, and the never-flagging if not particularly novel fun, we confess to spending a pleasantly hilarious evening with Miss Brown. This is the story:—A certain impulsive damsel named Angela Brightwell runs away from school to marry one Captain Courtenay, of the 41st Lancers, aided and abetted thereto by Major and Mrs O’Gallagher, at whose quarters the wedding breakfast takes place. In the middle of it Miss Angela’s school mistress, Miss Romney, arrives in pursuit of the fugitive, accompanied by Mr Hibbertson, a solicitor, and Sergeant Tanner, a detective from Scotland-yard—for Miss Brightwell is a ward in Chancery, and Captain Courtenay by wedding her has put himself within reach of his country’s laws. In order to escape capture by the police, he dresses up in the clothes of and is introduced to the detective as an imaginary “Miss Brown,” the Major’s niece. In the second act, which takes place at “Cicero Academy,” Courtenay, still in the disguise of “Miss Brown,” is left by the Major as a pupil at the school, and it is arranged that he shall elope with Angela that same evening. Tanner, who is on the premises, prepares for an attack from outside, and makes himself comfortable in an apartment communicating with the garden of the school through a conservatory. Now the music-master of the establishment, one Von Moser—no relation to the celebrated German dramatist—is watching in the garden outside, for he has conceived a violent passion for Angela, and is determined to prevent her loving husband from carrying her off. When “Miss Brown” and Angela come down into the sitting-room at eleven p.m. they find Tanner there, put him off his guard by their simple blandishments, and finally succeed in getting him to lock a pair of handcuffs on his wrists. They then turn out the lights, and escape in the confusion caused by the irruption of the young ladies and their preceptress in their nocturnal costumes.
     In making his escape Courtenay engaged in a desperate struggle with the music-master, and maltreated him severely. The Captain was pursued by Tanner, and finally captured, and is brought back to Cicero House in the third act, dishevelled and mud-splashed. The misunderstanding is kept up for some time longer, and then the dénouement is done by the arrival of the news that Courtenay’s cousin, an Earl, is dead; and that the Captain has succeeded to the title. In these circumstances the objections of Angela’s guardians to the match are withdrawn; and Courtenay, having cast away feminine disguise, appears once more in male attire, and leads away his bride.
     The farce had the advantage of being admirably acted by a remarkably good all-round cast. It is difficult to imagine a better representative of the rôle of Miss Romney than Miss M. A. Victor, who looked superbly proper in black silk and white lace, and bore herself with all the grace and dignity possible. Miss May Palfrey’s peculiarly fascinating personality and style were once more displayed in the part of Angela Brightwell; and she played it throughout with charming naturalness and impulsive vivacity. Miss Esme Beringer deserves very warm praise for her performance as Miss Euphemia Schwartz—Messrs Buchanan and Marlowe have evidently been reading “Vanity Fair”—a young lady from Demerara. She looked the part extremely well; and played it with excellent taste and discretion. Miss Daisy Brough was quietly comical as Matilda Jones; and Miss Gladys Homfrey made a genial, hearty, and agreeable Mrs O’Gallagher. Mr J. Beauchamp infused into his representation of Major O’Gallagher a vast amount of sly and roguish humour, and his performance was smart, vigorous, and alert throughout. Mr Power made the most of the small part of Private Docherty, and Mr Robb Harwood won a round of hearty applause by the burlesque vigour of his acting in the scene in which Von Moser, with broken head, cut face, and arm in a sling, persists in loudly proclaiming his love for Angela. Mr Gilbert Farquhar endowed Mr Hibbertson with all the necessary solidity and self-importance, and Mr Lionel Brough’s Sergeant Tanner was an impersonation to be remembered for its dry, irresistible drollery. Mr Brough’s depiction of the heavy, conscientious, and obstinate detective was most artistic; and contributed not a little to the illusion and to the success of the piece. Mr Frederick Kerr, as Captain Courtenay, was gentlemanlike and natural in the first act; and in the attire of “Miss Brown” was quietly and intensely amusing without any offensive and unnecessary exaggeration. The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown was warmly received; and Mr Kerr, appearing in the serge suit of Captain Courtenay, briefly thanked the audience for their kind reception of the play, and promised to convey the verdict to its authors. Everyone will be pleased if the popular actor’s experiment as a manager, so bravely tried at a time of torrid heat, should prove successful. We fancy a good deal more might be done, by a judicious arrangement of doors, to keep the auditorium of the Vaudeville as cool during the performance of the farce as it was on Wednesday at the commencement, when, to an audience of early comers, was played, as a lever de rideau, Mrs Hugh Bell’s comedietta entitled

“BETWEEN THE POSTS.”

Geoffrey Warburton ..........     Mr JOHN BUCKSTONE
Edith Neville            ..........     Miss MEASOR
Lucy                         ..........    Miss GRACE DUDLEY

How Mrs Bell’s play in French called L’Indécis was produced at the Royalty Theatre in the November of 1887, how it was adapted into English by her under the title of Between the Posts, and how a version by Mr G. W. Godfrey called The Man that Hesitates was performed at the St. George’s Hall in the February of 1889 need not be here retold. The interest in connection with the revival at the Vaudeville last Wednesday grew out of the appearance of Miss Measor, a charming actress who has been too long absent from the English stage, though what has been England’s loss has been Australia’s gain. She sustained the character of Edith Neville with her wonted delicacy, tact , and fine finish; and an effective contrast to her agreeable impersonation was the Geoffrey Warburton of Mr John Buckstone, which was a sound, careful, and humorous bit of acting. The little piece was evidently much enjoyed. Laughter was hearty and frequent during its representation; and Mr Kerr deserves the gratitude of the pit and gallery for supplying them with such a capital curtain-raiser.

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The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (29 June, 1895 - p.12)

“MISS BROWN” AT THE VAUDEVILLE THEATRE.

     OUR picture was taken at the rehearsal of this new piece for the vaudeville, which should have been produced on the 20th, but for the indisposition of Mr. F. Kerr. The scene is the one in which the young soldier Captain Courtenay, disguised as “Miss Brown,” is foiled in his attempt to abduct his wife by the jealous music-master. The wife, a ward in  chancery, who had eloped, has been brought back to school by the mistress under threats of prison and the Lord Chancellor. The detective who has been put sentry to prevent her escaping a second time, has been inveigled into handcuffs, and is powerless. The scuffle with the music-master, who has made it his business to flirt with all the girls of the establishment, and considers himself personally wronged by the marriage of one of them, rouses the whole house, and as seen in our picture the mistress and the young ladies rush in in undress with night lamps.

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From The Theatrical ‘World’ of 1895 by William Archer (London: Walter Scott, Ltd., 1896 - p.233)

“MISS BROWN.”

                                                                                                                                                       3rd July.

     The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown, a farce by Messrs. Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe, produced at the Vaudeville last week, amused the audience hugely, and in so far fulfilled its purposes. It is an ingenuous attempt to run Charlie's Aunt and The New Boy into one; but it is not nearly so clever as either of these farces, and quite as vulgar as both of them together. Still, as aforesaid, it went merrily enough, thanks to the bright acting of Miss May Palfrey and Miss Esme Beringer, and the red wig of Mr. Frederick Kerr. Mr. Kerr’s character called for no art whatever, except that of looking foolish—a task in which he succeeded to admiration. Mr. Lionel Brough, Mr. John Beauchamp, and Miss Gladys Homfrey also contributed to the success of the production.

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The Sketch (3 July 1895 - p.43)

NOTES FROM THE THEATRES.

. . .

     It rarely happens that so many sources of origin have been suggested for a play as in the case of “The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown.” “Charley’s Aunt,” “The New Boy,” “The Magistrate,” “Le Petit Duc,” “School,”  an episode in “Pickwick,” a canto of “Don Juan,” and “Jane Annie,” have been put forward as contributing to what has been called a “pot-pourri” and an “olla-podrida.” It would be difficult to pretend that Messrs. Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe really have consciously plagiarised from so many authors; it is not inconceivable that, although Mr. Buchanan doubtless is acquainted with all the works that I have named, he and his collaborateur have not wilfully borrowed at all. By-the-bye, I notice that the authors are even accused of borrowing notions from one or two French farces not yet seen in London, which seems to me a rather unfair way of making a charge of plagiarism. The accuser, unless he pretends that his accusation is founded upon a matter of common notoriety, ought, I think, to give fuller particulars. Now, no doubt, so far as actual merit in authorship is concerned, these charges of plagiarism, if well founded, are pertinent; for though much skill may be shown in making a “resurrection pie,” it is skill of a humble order. Yet it cannot be said that the audience were affected by the question of originality, while I fancy the critics quite enjoyed the game of seeking out parallel passages. “The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown” may, as a work of art, deserve all the censure that it has received, but it proved amusing to the house. Certainly the success was greatly due to the acting. Mr. Fred Kerr did not quite seem an ideal Miss Brown, though he was funny at times; Miss Palfrey was charming as Angela, the heroine; and Miss Esmé Beringer was delightful as the Demerara girl who caused some people to whisper “Vanity Fair,” and others to try, unsuccessfully, to find some phrase about Demerara sugar and Miss Beringer that might serve as an ingenious, truthful compliment. Mr. Lionel Brough was irresistibly funny as the detective, and hearty praise is due to Mrs. M. A. Victor and Mr. John Beauchamp.

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The Stage (4 July, 1895 - p.11)

THE VAUDEVILLE.

     On Wednesday evening, June 26, 1895, was produced for the first time a new and original farcical play, in three acts, written by Robert Buchanan and Charles Marlowe, entitled:—

The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown.

Miss Romney    ....................     Miss M. A. Victor
Angela Brightwell  ..................    Miss May Palfrey
Euphemia Schwartz  ...............     Miss Esme Beringer
Matilda Jones      ....................    Miss Daisy Brough
Millicent Loveridge  ................    Miss Jay Holford
Clara Loveridge  ....................     Miss Grace Dudley
Mrs O’Gallagher  ...................    Miss Gladys Homfrey
Emma                 ....................     Miss Marion Murray
Major O’Gallagher  ................     Mr. J. Beauchamp
Private Docherty   ...................     Mr. Power
Herr von Moser   ...................    Mr. Robb Harwood
Mr Hibbertson      ...................     Mr. Gilbert Farquhar
Sergeant Tanner    ...................     Mr. Lionel Brough
Captain Courtenay  .................     Mr. Frederick Kerr

Not for the first time by many, either in drama or in story, has a lover assumed female disguise to win or carry off his intended, but an old idea ably handled will always hold its own, and this is the case with The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown. Capt. Courtenay is very much in love with Angela Brightwell, but as she is a schoolgirl and a ward in Chancery, though he proposes he does not quite decide on marrying her there and then. Angela, however, is impulsive, adores her captain, and thinks that there should be no delay in the ceremony. So she arranges that they should meet at his great friend’s, Major O’Gallagher, quarters, the Major’s genial kindly wife being there to play proprietary, and that they should be joined together in  matrimony by special license. The wedding comes off, but unfortunately Angela’s flight is discovered, and so her schoolmistress, Miss Romney, and Mr. Hibbertson, the solicitor appointed by the Lord Chancellor to see after the ward, arrive, accompanied by Sergeant Tanner, a detective from Scotland Yard, who is to arrest Capt. Courtenay for contempt. Mrs. O’Gallagher is equal to the occasion, for, when Tanner insists on searching the house, he is introduced to a rather plain-looking, red-haired lady as Miss Brown, the said Miss Brown being no other than the gallant Captain, who has assumed the female disguise. The Captain is naturally anxious to enjoy his honeymoon, and his wife, having been taken back to Miss Romney’s, the Major takes the pseudo Miss Brown there and places her under the schoolmistress’s charge. Sergeant Tanner, who has been watching the Captain’s movements, naturally imagines that he will make for the spot where his lady love is in durance, and so obtains permission from Miss Romney to watch through the night. Angela has another admirer in Herr von Moser, her music master, who, also believing that she will be carried off by Capt. Courtenay, is guarding the approaches to the house. Tanner, calmly smoking his cigar, is surprised by the entrance first of Angela, and then of one of her great friends, Euphemia Schwartz, a handsome Creole girl boarder; they beguile him into allowing them to put on himself the handcuffs which he intends for Capt. Courtenay’s wrists. The last-named gentleman appears in the garb of Miss Brown. Herr von Moser also comes on the scene, there is a general scrimmage, and the curtain falls on Miss Romney and her pupils appearing attired in white dressing-gowns, having been disturbed by the noise. The third act is a little weak, it is only the winding up of the thread. Angela has got away safely, but Capt. Courtenay has been captured after a sharp chase by the detective, and is brought back muddy and dishevelled. News arrives of the sudden death of his cousin, whose decease makes the Captain an Earl, and so (by a little stretch of author’s license, for we hardly think the Lord Chancellor would take matters quite so easily) no further opposition is offered, and Angela and her husband are supposed to start off together. The subject of the play, one can see, is a little risky and somewhat trite, but the authors have treated it with great skill, and made it very amusing and enjoyable. They certainly owe much of the success of Wednesday night’s performance to the excellence of the manner in which the principals realised their ideas. Capt. Courtenay, alias Miss Brown, as the title-rôle, must be taken first. Mr. Frederick Kerr, we thought, might have availed himself a little more of his opportunities, and disguised his voice better; but for a man to fill a part in petticoats in comedy or farce, and to bring some semblance to nature, is not an easy thing to do, and therefore we must give Mr. Kerr all due credit. Miss May Palfrey’s Angela Brightwell was one of the most charmingly natural and feminine pictures we have ever seen, buoyancy without giddiness, genuine fun without a tinge of vulgarity, and hers was a very risky part to play. Miss Victor thoroughly realised the prim decorous schoolmistress, but might have had better support from Mr. Farquhar as Mr. Hibbertson. Miss Esme Beringer made a very marked advance as Euphemia Schwartz: it was a very careful study, full of colour, but with the high tints not too much emphasized. Miss Daisy Brough was quaint as the romantic lovelorn Matilda Jones, and Miss Marion Murray was smart as the servant Emma. Miss Gladys Homfrey as Mrs. O’Gallagher was so genial and lovable in her part that we were quite sorry we did not see more of her, and Mr. Beauchamp was the realization of one of Lever’s Irish majors, which is paying him the best of compliments. Almost the hit of the evening was made by Mr. Robb Harwood—his Herr von Moser was replete with humour, and was never exaggerated. Mr. Power rendered excellent service as Private Docherty, the soldier servant. Of Mr. Lionel Brough’s performance as Sergeant Tanner there is no occasion for us to speak, his reputation is too well known, and all that need be said is, that whenever he was on the stage the enjoyment of the audience was at its highest. The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown was received with every mark of approval, the calls were numerous, and on the fall of the curtain Mr. Kerr announced that the authors were not in the house, but that he would convey to them the favourable reception accorded to their work.

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Black and White (6 July, 1895 - p.16)

THE LONDON THEATRES.
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     The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown, by Mr. Robert Buchanan and Mr. Charles Marlowe, produced at the Vaudeville, is an amusing trifle of the Charley’s Aunt order which bids fair to win popularity. Of course, the theme of a young man masquerading in woman’s clothes comes perilously near the vulgar; but in this piece, as in its prototype, actual contact with it is avoided. Miss May Palfrey, Miss Esmé Beringer and Miss M. A. Victor act with grace and spirit. Mr. Frederick Kerr is extremely amusing as the false “Miss Brown,” and his representation is accompanied by a constant ripple of laughter. Other parts are capitally portrayed by Mr. Lionel Brough, Mr. Beauchamp and Mr.Gilbert Farquhar.

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The Illustrated London News (6 July, 1895 - p.25)

THE PLAYHOUSES.

BY CLEMENT SCOTT.

Mr. Robert Buchanan has made a success at the Vaudeville with a funny play, aided by a mysterious Mr. Charles Marlowe. It appears that certain of my brethren were impolite enough to say, concerning Mr. Buchanan’s partner, in the words of Mrs. Gamp, that “there was no sich person.” Whereupon, in order to keep up the joke, the authors of “The Adventures of Miss Brown” thought to clinch the matter by forwarding to the editor of a popular newspaper Mr. Charles Marlowe’s visiting card! But that does not prove much, for I have heard before now of visiting cards being printed bearing fictitious names. It really does not very much matter, however, whether the mysterious Marlowe exists in the flesh or not; but I should not be surprised to hear that, following the example of Mr. Fred Kerr, he occasionally wears petticoats—in fact, that this Mr. Marlowe is a very clever literary Miss! Messrs. Buchanan and Marlowe certainly owe a deep debt of gratitude to Mr. Kerr and his company for the admirable manner in which they skate over the many difficulties contained in the adventures of the aforesaid Miss Brown. One false step would have ruined the farce, and I really do not see how the man-woman could have been played with greater care, good taste, and judgment than by Mr. Kerr. A more difficult task was never presented to an actor, and this will be recognised if I briefly refer to the story.
     A gallant and handsome young cavalry officer runs away with a pretty little ward in Chancery, and, with the connivance of some genial Irish friends, marries her straight away, as they say in America, thus exposing himself to the terrors of whoever happens to represent the Vice-Chancellors of other days. Those who have long theatrical memories will recall this fact, that “the Little Duke” in Lecocq’s charming opera did precisely the same thing. The little Duke married a little Duchess, and she was promptly hurried off to a convent to expiate her matrimonial offence. The bride of the cavalry officer is similarly recaptured and conveyed back to Miss Pinkerton’s boarding-school, from which she had eloped. The little Duke, as everyone knows, stormed the convent in the disguise of an old woman in order to catch a glimpse of the little Duchess. The cavalry officer does exactly the same thing, disguised as Miss Brown, a nervous, faltering, undefying young woman, who apparently “cannot say bo! to a goose.” “And then the band begin to play.” The girls at the boarding-school, particularly Thackeray’s “Vanity Fair” Miss Schwarz, tear their hair and scratch one another over the innocent Miss Brown. And in the end, of course, the military Miss Brown abducts his bride, and ever after they were all apparently very happy, in good old story-book fashion.
     The acting is excellent all round. There is not one round peg in  a square hole. Mr. Kerr and Miss May Palfrey are equally admirable—the one funny without being vulgar; the other a charming, wilful, and determined English girl, full of spirit and determination, the kind of bright bit of female England of old days that has been supplanted by prigs and bores and female manikins despised by decent men. Miss Esmé Beringer came once more to the front in a well studied and artistically conceived bit of character as the rich Creole parlour boarder, all West Indian attitude and warm heart. Here, again, danger loomed ahead. The storm signals were out, but Esmé Beringer managed to bring Miss Schwarz safe into port. It was cleverly done and required skilful seamanship. Mr. Lionel Brough, who played a steady, hard-headed detective admirably, quite in the fine old comedy manner of the old school, gave the new play most welcome assistance, and I have only need to mention the name of Miss M. A. Victor to let everyone know that the schoolmistress was a keen study of character. Mr. Robb Harwood, as a love-stricken German master, once more showed his observation and talent. Here again is a young actor who will make his mark.
     It has been said that Mr. Buchanan’s play is risky, and that its dangers have been obviated by discretion and good taste. What, then, am I to say of “Ma Cousine,” a French play shelved for five years, which has been brought out for the first appearance this season of Madame Réjane at the Garrick? In the course of my life I have sat out some curious French plays, but, honestly, I don’t think I have ever met before a subject so offensive or dialogue more frankly vulgar and nasty. I am told on good authority that the Examiner of Stage Plays has vigorously used the blue pencil on the dialogue of “Ma Cousine,” and edited it for modern English audiences. I have not had an opportunity of reading the French text, “but from what I heard from the stage” I should very much like to know what it was like before the editing process began. In the scene between Riquette, the actress, and Raoul, the dissolute Baron, I suppose that more audacious dialogue was never before heard on an  English stage, for Réjane is not so clever at skating over riskiness in dialogue as Chaumont was in the old days. She plays the part in a downright, good-hearted, vulgar manner, the unrefined mercenary woman that the author has described, and she sees no reason for refusing to underline the dialogue because she is playing in England, where she sees girls of every age before her—a sight that she has certainly never seen in Paris. It is said in excuse that English girls who are taken to such a play as this do not understand it. Then why on earth are they taken to see it if it be all Greek to them? I certainly hope that they did not understand much that Raoul said to Riquette, but it is pretty plainly indicated in the “Réjane Edition” of the play printed for the benefit of American girls. More than this, I do not see how a clever girl could fail to comprehend the meaning of a character called Madame Berlandet, who is not very much of a credit to the dramatic profession of France. Possibly we have Madame Berlandets in England also, with their manicure boxes, their fetching and carrying, and their jackal ways in the world of vice; but, at any rate, we keep them in the background and do not advertise them on the stage. The typical French actress as exhibited in “Ma Cousine” may be very good-natured, but her entourage is as nasty as it is undesirable. Great surprise is felt that we have never yet seen an English version of Meilhac’s vulgar and undesirable play. For myself I am not at all surprised, for I do not believe that any actress with the slightest self-respect would identify herself with such s character as Riquette, nor would the majority of the actors and actresses drag their profession through the mud at the bidding of an author who has done some beautiful and touching things in his time, but with “Ma Cousine” temporarily lost his head.

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The Sketch (17 July, 1895 - p.25-27).

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The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (20 July, 1895 - p.20)

OUR CAPTIOUS CRITIC.

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The Bury and Norwich Post and Suffolk Standard (23 July, 1895 - p.7)

“THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF MISS
BROWN” AT THE VAUDEVILLE THEATRE.

[BY EOTHEN.]

     The first piece, Between the Posts, by Hugh Bell, opens the ball in lively fashion. Smartly written and acted with vivacity by Mr. John Buckstone, as Geoffrey Warburton, a young barrister, and Miss Measor, as Edith Neville, it secured a heartier meed of applause than is usually given to its class. The subject matter is not racing, nor are the posts the starting and winning posts but those under the control of the Postmaster General.
     Geoffrey came and saw, and was conquered by the charms of Edith Neville, and writes an offer of a marriage, but afterwards, fancying he has been a little too “previous,” he rushes to the post office to get his letter back, but, of course, is met with a decided negative.
     Failing the recovery of his missive, he bethinks him of a telegram, wires to Edith to burn his letter unread (which does not argue any very intimate acquaintance with the sex on his part), and then comes in propria persona to see how his two communications have fared.
     Edith hospitably offers him breakfast, thus making good the proverb of the early bird, but he cannot enjoy the meal, being haunted with the thought that his letter or telegram may arrive at any moment.
     Presently a letter arrives but not his, and he breathes again, followed by his telegram, and, after a moment’s thought, Edith concludes that the sender of both missives is her friend Amelia, more especially as the letter was not a very nice one, and the wire was a sort of olive branch.
     Plucking up heart of grace, Geoffrey puts it to the torch, and is accepted. Consequently, when the letter arrives, its message is forestalled, and though they have not riches, they have each other’s love, and when Edith objects that “When poverty comes in at the door, love flies out at the window,” she is met by Geoffrey’s happy retort “Then we wont have any windows.”
     The two lovers were warmly welcomed in their original parts at this, their first appearance on a London stage, since their return from America, and the hope expressed in a concluding quatrain, with a quaint old world flavour, addressed by Miss Measor to the audience, that they had not tried in vain, met with an enthusiastic response.
     The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown, by Robert Buchanan and Charles (why not Christopher) Marlowe, bears out the promise of its title as a farcical play, though the leit motif can scarcely be called new and original.
     Capt. Courtenay. of the 41st Lancers, has made up his mind to brave the terrors of the law and marry Angela Brightwell, a ward in Chancery, though she is still in statu pupillari under the charge of Miss Romney, a very dragon in petticoats, aided and abetted by Major O’Gallagher, a brother officer and his wife.
     The lovers meet at Mrs. O’Gallagher’s quarters, Chelmsford, and the gallant Captain is fain to confess that his courage, like Bob Acres’, is oozing out at his finger tips, but a glass of champagne, and Angela’s courage restore his nerve, and they start for the Church to make a match of it.
     Scarcely have they made good their exit before Private Doherty, the Major’s servant, rushes in with the fateful news of the arrival of Mr. Hibbertson, a solicitor, and Miss Romney, the principal of Cicero House Academy.
     The wedding cake is hastily removed, and the servant puts down the wine in a sense scarcely intended by his mistress, and thus the decks are cleared for action. Mr. Hibbertson enters and demands with the air of a member of the Holy Inquisition where is Miss Angela Brightwell, to which the terrified Mrs. O’Gallagher makes reply that there is no such name, and in an audible aside palliates the falsehood to her conscience, “It will be true soon.”
     The man of law, who prides himself upon being also a man of a few words, expatiates on the enormity of Captain Courtenay’s offence, in daring to run off with a ward of Chancery, and Miss Romney chimes in by lamenting the scandal that would befall the hitherto irreproachable Academy of Cicero House.
     A diversion in the captain’s favour is attempted by his servant, who offers to show the irate lawyer a short cut across the fields to the station, to waylay the fugitives on their flight to London.
     But the lawyer’s suspicions are aroused, and he returns to Major O’Gallagher’s quarters, to find that he is too late to stop the wedding.
     In a fury at being outwitted, the lawyer orders Angela to return to Cicero House, and after a deal of coaxing the Major persuades the bridegroom to let her go, and the first act ends with the first appearance of Miss Brown, the Major’s niece, from Portsmouth, who is none other than the Captain himself, prepared at all costs to rescue his bride.
     Herr Von Moser, the music master, whose rôle is to make love to all his pupils, resents the idea of Angela’s marriage, and makes violent love, which she equally resents, and the lesson is brought to an abrupt ending.
     Sympathy comes in the person of Matilda Jones, who confesses that she has often dreamed of a military man as her beau ideal of a husband, and this sympathy is all the sweeter by contrast with the reproaches of the schoolmistress, who taunts her that there can be no marriage unless the contracting parties reside together.
     The wily Major pretends to be greatly scandalised at Capt. Courtenay’s conduct, and vows with a truculent air that he will shoot him like a dog, and trembles for the moral effect this escapade may have on Miss Brown, his innocent niece.
     Miss Brown does not take quite kindly at first to Miss Romney, she is awkward and shy, which the schoolmistress attributes to the awe she inspires, and leaves her to solitude and the study of Toplady’s sermons.
     After a while the other girls come in, and Angela, in the excitement of seeing her husband thus disguised, nearly betrays Charley, but checks herself in time.
     On Miss Euphemia Schwartz making her exit, the gallant captain has a bad five minutes, while Angela enlarges on his turpitude in carrying on with Miss Schwartz. Though he was really more sinned against than sinning.
     Sergeant Tanner, of Scotland Yard, is told off to search for Captain Courtenay, but it required keener eyes than his to recognise the defier of law and order in “Miss Brown.”
     After the storm has passed over, the couple make an assignation to meet after the nine o’clock devotions, but Herr Von Moser, whose senses are quickened by jealousy, is on the watch in the garden and frustrates the elopement, the wife escaping in the carriage while “Miss Brown” squares scores with Moser, to the detriment of his personal attraction.
     Miss Brown then tries her attractions on the detective, and that stern custodian of the law so far unbends as to offer her a drink of weak brandy and water, which, to his surprise and disgust she negotiates at a draught, and to explain the mystery of handcuffs, allows her to lock them on him, whereupon he finds himself enveloped in a shawl, and, at his cries for help, the pupils with their mistress at their head, appear in a striking tableau in admired deshabille.
     “All’s well that ends well.” Capt. Courtenay having succeeded to an uncle’s title, becomes “My Lord,” and it is agreed on all hands to bury the hatchet, and consign the Miss Brown episode to oblivion. But this will not be the verdict of the public, and it argues no great amount of prophetic gifts to predict that Miss Brown will be the heroine of her strange adventures for many a night to come.
     While regretting the absence of Mr. Weedon Grossmith, no one will grudge him his well-earned rest; au reste, all goes merry as a marriage bell.
     Mr. Frederick Kerr enters into the spirit of his unsexing, and brings down the house by his vain attempts to pocket the dainty which Miss Schwartz has surreptitiously given him. The scene on the sofa where he has to keep the balance between Euphemia’s advances and his wife’s not unreasoning jealousy was vastly amusing.
     Miss May Palfrey is an admirable embodiment of the charming and wilful ward in Chancery. She seems to develop more breadth of personation with every fresh character she assumes, and much of the success of Miss Brown is owing to the spirited way in which she plays up to the creator of the title rôle.
     Miss Esme Beringer, artistically made up as a Creole beauty, plays with an abandon which would be dangerous in real life to Miss Brown’s allegiance to his wife.
     Miss M. A. Victor gave a life-like portrait of the Principal of Cicero House Academy, very proud of the prestige of her school, and feeling deeply the loss of it by the Brightwell scandal.
     Miss Gladys Homfrey, as the timid yet warm-hearted Mrs. O’Gallagher, with a wholesome dread of the Lord Chancellor, made an admirable foil to the reckless insouciance of the gallant major, played with excellent spirit by Mr. J. Beauchamp, who enters into the fun of passing off his comrade, Captain Courtenay, as his niece from Portsmouth.
     A good character sketch was the Herr Von Moser of Mr. Robert Harwood. The fussiness and self-conceit of the lawyer were well brought out by Mr. Gilbert Farquhar, and the mingled shrewdness and incompetence of the representative of Scotland Yard were set forth in his own inimitable dry humour by that master of comedy, Mr. Lionel Brough.
     And if some captious individual detects a family likeness between the present Vaudeville play, and another not far off, the rejoinder is obvious that the variations on an air are often as interesting as the original composition, and thus Miss Brown may be launched with a well-grounded assurance that the breath of popular applause will make her voyage a pleasant and successful one, and bring kudos and prosperity to all concerned in its production, specially to the enterprising lessee and his courteous manager, Mr. A. F. Henderson.

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The Theatre (1 August, 1895)

THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF MISS BROWN.

A Farcical Play, in Three Acts, by ROBERT BUCHANAN and CHARLES MARLOWE. Produced at the
Vaudeville, June 27.

Miss Romney            ...   Miss M. A. VICTOR.
Angela Brightwell      ...   Miss MAY PALFREY.
Euphemia Schwartz  ...  Miss ESME BERINGER.
Matilda Jones            ...   Miss DAISY BROUGH.
Millicent Loveridge    ...   Miss JAY HOLFORD.
Clara Loveridge        ...   Miss GRACE DUDLEY.
Mrs O’Gallagher      ...  Miss GLADYS HOMFREY.

Emma                     ...  Miss MARION MURRAY.
Major O’Gallagher  ...  Mr J. BEAUCHAMP.
Private Docherty       ...   Mr POWER.
Herr von Moser       ...   Mr ROBB HARWOOD.
Mr Hibbertson          ...   Mr GILBERT FARQUHAR.
Sergeant Tanner        ...   Mr LIONEL BROUGH.
Captain Courtenay    ...   Mr FREDERICK KERR.

     The easiest and most comprehensive manner of describing Miss Brown is to say that the piece is fairly amusing. The fact is more than sufficient to secure for it the favour of a laughter-loving public, and the authors consequently may rely upon reaping a reward altogether disproportionate to the labour they have expended on their work. For, truth to tell, neither in the matter of originality nor of wit have they been too prodigal. Where invention failed, however, memory has come to the rescue, while any lack of humour is fully counterbalanced by a plentiful supply of horseplay. The result is more or less of a dramatic hotch-potch, in which one is continually encountering savoury little scraps conveyed by the purveyors from sources familiar to every playgoer. At one moment we have a suggestion of Don Juan, at another The Magistrate is recalled, while at every turn the unmistakable influence of Charley’s Aunt can be detected. This the merest sketch of the plot will serve to show. Captain Courtenay, a dashing young cavalry officer, has married Angela Brightwell, a ward in chancery, without first obtaining the necessary permission. Nemesis, in the shape of a fussy little solicitor and a muddle-headed detective, follows swiftly upon his track, and in order to elude those representatives of the law Courtenay shaves off his moustache and appears in the dress of a schoolgirl. So attired, he contrives to penetrate into Miss Romney’s academy, where his bride is held prisoner, with results which can easily be imagined. The situation is as old as the hills, and at this time of day hardly offers scope for anything like novel treatment. As it happens, the authors of Miss Brown have been content to take things as they found them, on the principle, doubtless, that what served to make our fathers and grandfathers laugh can scarcely fail to provoke merriment in a later generation. Frankly, however, they might have been at the pains to supply a last act a trifle more ingenious in construction and convincing in dénouement. But the average farce-writer is seldom too particular about the final unravelling of the various threads of his plot, preferring to cut the Gordian knot at one stroke, and in this respect Messrs. Buchanan and Marlowe are no better or worse than the majority of their fellow-workmen. In fairness it should be said that much of the success obtained by their piece on its first performance was due to the admirable interpretation given it by an excellent company. In selecting the title-part for himself, Mr. Fred Kerr, who has temporarily assumed the management of the Vaudeville, showed a degree of self-abnegation somewhat unusual in the actor-manager, for certainly no one could describe Captain Courtenay as a star part. With commendable tact and discretion, Mr. Kerr succeeded, however, in avoiding the dangers which invariably attend the appearance on the stage of a man in woman’s clothes. As Euphemia Schwartz, one of the schoolgirls, Miss Esmé Beringer gave a performance of remarkable merit, which proved conclusively that in Miss Beringer we have an actress who, given the opportunity, is capable of rising to a very high level. Let us hope that she will speedily be afforded the chance of showing what she can do with a really strong emotional part. Miss May Palfrey made a delightfully fresh and piquant bride; while, needless to say, Miss M. A. Victor and Mr. Lionel Brough extracted every ounce of fun from the characters assigned them. To the remaining members of the cast nothing but praise is due.

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The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent (26 August, 1895 - p.5)

     “The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown” is having a very successful run at the Vaudeville Theatre. It is a farcical comedy, in the construction of which Mr. Robert Buchanan has had a share. It brims over with real fun; the dialogue is intensely witty; the situations comical in the extreme. This effect is brought about without vulgarity and without boisterous horse-play; and the piece impresses the spectator throughout by its novelty. The “Vaudeville” is only a small house, but it is extremely comfortable and convenient for London visitors staying in the West End. Mr. G. Hollingshead, manager, has scored a big success in “The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown.”

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The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (28 September, 1895 - p.18)

     THE 100th performance of The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown took place on Thursday, the 26th. The play is going very strong, and will be transferred to Terry’s Theatre on October 7th.

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The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown - continued

 

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