Play List:

1. The Rath Boys

2. The Witchfinder

3. A Madcap Prince

4. Corinne

5. The Queen of Connaught

6. The Nine Days’ Queen

7. The Mormons

8. The Shadow of the Sword

9. Lucy Brandon

10. Storm-Beaten

11. Lady Clare

[Flowers of the Forest]

12. A Sailor and His Lass

13. Bachelors

14. Constance

15. Lottie

16. Agnes

17. Alone in London

18. Sophia

19. Fascination

20. The Blue Bells of Scotland

21. Partners

22. Joseph’s Sweetheart

23. That Doctor Cupid

24. Angelina!

25. The Old Home

26. A Man’s Shadow

27. Theodora

28. Man and the Woman

29. Clarissa

30. Miss Tomboy

31. The Bride of Love

32. Sweet Nancy

33. The English Rose

34. The Struggle for Life

35. The Sixth Commandment

36. Marmion

37. The Gifted Lady

38. The Trumpet Call

39. Squire Kate

40. The White Rose

41. The Lights of Home

42. The Black Domino

43. The Piper of Hamelin

44. The Charlatan

45. Dick Sheridan

46. A Society Butterfly

47. Lady Gladys

48. The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown

49. The Romance of the Shopwalker

50. The Wanderer from Venus

51. The Mariners of England

52. Two Little Maids from School

53. When Knights Were Bold


Short Plays

Other Plays

Buchanan’s Theatrical Ventures in America

Poetry Readings





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

The Critical Response
Harriett Jay

Site Diary
Site Search


18. Sophia (1886) - continued


[Helen Forsyth from The Theatre (1 May, 1886).]


The Theatre (1 May, 1886)

     Another surprising success has been made in the course of the month by Miss Helen Forsyth, the bright, clever, human little Molly Seagrim attached to Mr. Robert Buchanan’s “Sophia” at the Vaudeville. Hitherto, Miss Helen Forsyth has only been known as the pretty girl in several Haymarket plays. With a sweet voice and a charmingly refined manner, she has justly been considered one of the best of the modern drawing-room young ladies. She was welcomed, and justly so, in “Dark Days,” and at the first performance of “Jim the Penman” she showed how a bright, happy English girl can be naturally and unaffectedly played. But few were prepared for the transformation as Molly Seagrim. Away went the pretty frocks, the fair skin was stained to the tint of a gipsy, and Miss Forsyth appeared to the very life as a country hoyden, loving, ignorant, passionate, unsophisticated, the very picture of a village wench who might have been a poacher’s daughter. But Miss Forsyth did not succeed alone as a picture of highly-coloured rusticity. She entered into the heart and spirit of the character. She understood Molly Seagrim, the tangled weed of the country lanes, soon to be crushed under a strong man’s heel. It was a clever performance because we felt there was art in it and not artifice. Directly Miss Forsyth came on the stage the whole attention of the house was directed towards her. She had enlisted the sympathetic attention of her audience, and she held it whenever she was on the stage.



The Era (12 June, 1886)


Tom Jones      ..........................     Mr CHARLES GLENNEY
Mr. Allworthy  ..........................    Mr GILBERT FARQUHAR
Blifil                 ..........................    Mr ROYCE CARLETON
Square           ..........................     Mr H. AKHURST
Squire Western ........................     Mr FRED. THORNE
George Seagrim ........................    Mr FULLER MELLISH
Copse              ..........................    Mr J. WHEATMAN
Partridge          ..........................    Mr THOMAS THORNE
Sophia             ..........................    Miss KATE RORKE
Miss Western ..........................     Miss SOPHIE LARKIN
Honour           ..........................     Miss LOTTIE VENNE
Susan              ..........................    Miss LOUISA PEACH
Molly Seagrim ..........................     Miss HELEN FORSYTH
Lady Bellaston ..........................    Miss ROSE LECLERCQ
Thicket            ..........................    Mr COURTNEY
Jim                  ..........................    Mr JOHNSON
Page               ..........................    Master OLLETT
Matt               ..........................    Mr A. AUSTIN
Footman        ..........................     Mr CAMPBELL
Lady Bellaston’s Maid  .............     Miss BRITTAIN

     About the attractiveness of Mr Robert Buchanan’s adaptation of Fielding’s “Tom Jones,” properly described as the greatest work of our first and greatest satirical novelist, there is no dispute, and adaptor and manager have since the first night of production found gratification, not alone in the presence of good audiences, but in the evident appreciation with which the representation of the comedy has been received. It is claimed for “Tom Jones” that, despite a certain taint, which is coarseness rather than immorality, it has gained its immortality as a work of art, because it is fundamentally right and pure in its pictures of human nature, and certainly we must admit the claim to credit put forward for the fact that care has been taken to select only for stage purposes what is perfectly stainless and void of offence. What if the hero has been morally whitewashed? He is still, as we have before remarked, a real flesh and blood hero, full of life and full of vigour, and not the less interesting because his virtues are made more prominent than his vices. Mr Buchanan very neatly in eight lines summed up the story he had to tell—

You guess, from this, Love is to-day our theme?
Yes. Love’s old privilege and Love’s young dream!
A tale as ancient, friends, as man’s first wooing:
Two rivals ruffling and two lovebirds cooing,
An angry father, doubt, fear, supplication,
Then presto! Cupid’s final conjuration—
No tears, no parting for another day more,
But wedding bells, and omnia vincit Amor!

Mr Buchanan is no mere scissors and paste adaptor, and while readily admitting his claim to have furnished for the greater part the leading situations and the dialogue, which is of excellent quality, we would, with him, ask the hypocritical and those to whom the name of Bowdler is hateful to

Remember, modes of speech have now grown nicer;
Folk, if not purer, are at least preciser.

To the excellent acting of those engaged in the representation we have already done some justice, but not full justice, and a second interview with Sophia induces us to give it further attention. Courtesy compels and inclination leads, and so we give first place to
     MISS KATE RORKE AS SOPHIA.—She delighted us in the first performance, and she has since delighted all who have seen her. From first to last her impersonation is one of rare excellence; but, if there is one scene we prefer above all the rest, it is that of the first act, where Sophia, disguising, or attempting to disguise, her real feelings, puts on a show of indifference while questioning her maid concerning Tom Jones and the things he has said about her. The clever actress by her looks suggests more than she speaks. We seem to see through her face into her heart. Miss Rorke’s Sophia is never tame, and consequently it is always interesting. The scorn of Blifil in the second act and the contemptuous dismissal of Tom Jones in the third have already been commented on in laudatory terms, and once more we shall say that Mr Buchanan was fortunate, very fortunate, in securing so pretty, so clever, and so fascinating an exponent of the character of his heroine.
     MISS LOTTIE VENNE AS HONOUR.—Miss Venne is facileprinceps where archness and piquancy are required, and there is nothing more diverting in the comedy under notice than her treatment of this part. Honour is interested in the success of Tom Jones’s love for Sophia, and, as she sees through her mistress’s show of indifference in that scene of the first act to which reference has already been made, she plays her cards with not a little artfulness, putting fuel in abundance on the flame of Sophia’s curiosity in fashion that is highly amusing. The dealing of her last trump and the winning of the game which covers Lady Bellaston with confusion may be instanced as another proof of the ability with which Miss Venne handles the work entrusted to her keeping.
     MISS ROSE LECLERCQ AS LADY BELLASTON.—Miss Leclercq has splendidly gauged the possibilities of this part, and it must be said that the foolish woman of fashion who sets her cap at Tom Jones and suffers such ignominious defeat in her shameless scheme could not well have had a better representative. The affectation of modesty which is meant to conceal immodesty is put on with wondrous ability, and the outburst of rage and shame after her exposure at the end is decidedly one of the finest things in the whole performance, and cannot but add to the reputation of an actress who, in recent years, has been too seldom seen on the metropolitan stage.
     MISS HELEN FORSYTH AS MOLLY SEAGRIM.—Miss Forsyth had been slowly but surely making her way to the front before Sophia saw the light, but her Molly Seagrim came as a revelation of skill almost unsuspected. The charm of the impersonation is in its naturalness. In the portraiture of the simple and ignorant country lass there is not the shadow of artificiality, and, while the actress causes us to smile at Molly’s innocence, she also compels us to sympathise with the trusting, loving victim of the scoundrel Blifil’s duplicity.
     MR THOMAS THORNE AS PARTRIDGE.—This is “dear old Partridge,” as Tom Jones affectionately calls him. He is honest as the day and as faithful as a watchdog. Indeed, he is a watchdog, ever on the alert to serve our hero for whom he has so strong an affection. Mr Thorne treats the character with an amount of rugged simplicity and humour that is highly amusing, much laughter being the outcome of that barber’s shop cry—“Next please,” which he cannot get rid of even when away from his razors and his brushes, and placed in the most critical and serious positions. The Vaudeville visitors sympathise with Partridge as well as laugh at him, for now and again, in wonderful contrast with his fun, comes a bit of feeling that in its natural expression touches the heart, and makes tears start for the eyes.
     MR CHARLES GLENNY AS TOM JONES.—We like Mr Glenny’s rendering of this part better than we have liked anything he has done for a long time past. We admire this Tom Jones even in his cups in the first act, but we admire him more in the later scenes where poverty has laid its cruel hand upon him; where he almost shudders at the thought that his beloved Sophia should see him in his squalid abode; where with true manly feeling he sobs out the words “I could not bear her pity;” and where, through no fault of his own, but by reason of circumstances he could not control, he stands scorned and cast off by the girl to whom his heart has been ever true. We like much also the fire which Mr Glenny puts into the scenes of his encounters with Blifil, and those who see them will heartily wish that they could have the thrashing of the rascal at the end of the first act done all over again.
     MR ROYCE CARLETON AS BLIFIL.—It is because Mr Carleton plays so well as this mean, lying, and contemptible rascal that the desire just referred to springs up, for he makes us hate him for his cunning, for his endeavours to supplant our hero, for his sneaking and abominable hypocrisy, and particularly for his treatment of poor, trusting Molly Seagrim.
     MR FRED. THORNE continues his vigorous impersonation of the Squire, and some further commendation is due to Mr Gilbert Farquhar as Allworthy; Mr Fuller Mellish as George Seagrim—Mr Mellish recently, as we told, played Ton Jones in Mr Glenney’s enforced absence, and played it well; Mr H. Akhurst as Square; and Miss Sophie Larkin as Miss Western.



The Era (10 July, 1886 - p.8)

     MR LESTER WALLACK, of Wallack’s Theatre, New York, has arranged for the production early in the autumn season of Mr Robert Buchanan’s comedy Sophia. The part of Tom Jones will be sustained by Mr Kyrle Bellew, and Mr Charles Groves has been specially engaged to create the part of Partridge in America. The comedy will be played for the 100th time at the Vaudeville on Saturday next.

. . .

     The first provincial tour of Mr Robert Buchanan’s successful Vaudeville comedy Sophia will commence at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, Birmingham, September 6th. A first-class company has been engaged, and the piece will be rehearsed under the personal superintendance of Mr Thomas Thorne.



The New York Times (26 July, 1886)

     I cannot say that I was carried away by “Sophia,” which is close upon its one hundredth performance at the Vaudeville Theatre—the theatre of long “runs,” where “Our Boys” ran I forget how many years, and pieces that are withdrawn less than six months after production are regarded as having died in their infancy. The Vaudeville,  nevertheless, is filled nightly by people anxious to see “Sophia,” and as the taste of English-speaking audiences the world over is not vastly dissimilar, I presume that the piece, which is soon to be exported to America—like “Jim the Penman,” by the way—will prove as remunerative across the Atlantic as it is here. “Sophia” is founded upon Fielding’s “Tom  Jones,” and Mr. Robert Buchanan, the author of the play, gives credit to the English author for the parentage of the work. I have heard some English writers declare that Mr. Buchanan was unwise in acknowledging his indebtedness to Fielding, on the ground that his achievement was sufficiently “strong” to require no assistance. I beg to differ from these gentlemen, and to express the belief that Mr. Buchanan acted with praiseworthy shrewdness as well as with honesty in placing under the protection of a great literary memory a number of characters and incidents that a modern audience would often be tempted to weary of and laugh at. There is no little of what Mr. Daly would call human interest in  “Sophia,” and women will sympathize with the much-persecuted hero, and wait to see how he will escape from the sea of troubles whose waves he buffets for a pretty long evening, but the goody-goody personages, the old-fashioned garrulity, and the wildly improbable episodes are tolerably trying to an auditor that does not promptly get into the atmosphere and spirit of the piece. The name of Fielding, however, covers a multitude of sins, and he that cares to read “Tom Jones” may experience a kindred enjoyment in witnessing “Sophia.” The rôle of Tom Jones is sustained at the Vaudeville, in a simple and manly fashion, by Mr. Charles Glenny. I learn that it is to be intrusted in the United States to Mr. Kyrle Bellew. I should have mentioned that “Sophia” is intended for Wallack’s Theatre. Mr. Bellew’s craving for female sympathy, inordinate though it may be, is likely to be sated by the character’s multitudinous woes. Sophia finds a comely interpreter in Miss Sophie Larkin, and the “fine lady” of the olden time, with her airs and graces, and her brocade gowns and diminutive blackamoor, is pictured with delightful fidelity to the accepted type by Miss Rose Leclercq. The comic rôle of the piece, which has been more or less felicitously “written up” to meet the requirements of Mr. Thomas Thorne, the popular comedian and manager of the Vaudeville, is that of a barber that sticks to Tom Jones through thick and thin, and winds up his bachelor’s life by wooing and winning Honor, Sophia’s maid, and the dea ex machina, whose story rights all wrongs ere the final curtain falls.



The Stage (17 September, 1886 - p.15)


     ROYAL (Lessee, Mr. Cecil Beryl; Acting Manager, Mr. Walter Hatton).—Robert Buchanan’s successful adaptation of “Tom Jones,” entitled Sophia, as played by Mr. Thomas Thorne’s Co. compares favourably with most provincial performances. Mr. Frank K. Cooper as the modernised Tom Jones looks, acts, and speaks to the entire approbation of the audience. Mr. A. Harding as Blifil fills an ungrateful but colourless part with tact. Mr. (why not  Squire?) Allworthy has an excellent exponent in Mr. William Holman; Mr. D. D. Betterton is sufficiently sententious as Tutor Square, while Mr. C. A. White, although noisy enough as Squire Western, can scarcely be said to be a complete exponent of the part. Mr. A. Wood is quite successful in imparting a delightful tinge of humour to his impersonation of Partridge, and his “next, please” never failed to draw a hearty laugh. Miss Lillian Gillmore, it is almost needless to say, with her charming manner and sweet face, is a most perfect Sophia. Miss Lilian Seccombe gives a piquant reading of the part of the little gipsy, Molly Seagrim; indeed, in its entirety, her impersonation could not have been surpassed. Miss Gladys Homfrey as Lady Bellaston is stately and reserved, as suits the lady of fashion, and Miss Carbury is charmingly neat and spirited as Honour. The scenery is excellent, and the costumes are thoroughly creditable. Miss Fannie Leslie next week.



The Standard (11 October, 1886 - p.3)

     At the Vaudeville, Mr. Robert Buchanan’s Sophia, which purports to be an adaptation of “Tom Jones,” was revived on Saturday evening, after having been for a time withdrawn to make way for The Road to Ruin. Mr. Buchanan’s perversion of the famous book cannot possibly be acceptable to those who appreciate Fielding’s work. In the adaptor’s hands the wit and power of the great novelist, the vigour and truth of his studies of human nature, entirely disappear, and there is nothing left but a commonplace and conventional play. But there are many persons to whom plays of this sort are welcome, and who, knowing nothing of the original, will not feel indignant at the playwright’s presumption in putting his own poor talk into the mouths of the personages upon whom he has laid violent hands. Had Mr. Buchanan acknowledged indebtedness to Fielding, and refrained from vulgarising the familiar names, he would not be open to the reproof which all who respect literature must feel that he deserves. The piece, however, appears to have been sufficiently successful to induce Mr. Thorne to revive it, and it was very well received. The new cast differs from the former in only one important particular. Mr. Glenny, the original representative of Tom Jones—of Mr. Buchanan’s Tom Jones, it must be understood—is now engaged at another theatre, and Mr. Charles Warner has succeeded to the part. He plays in highly effective fashion, and will doubtless ensure for the revival such success as can be gained by a popular hero. Mr. Thorne’s careful study of Tom Jones’s faithful friend remains one of the most welcome features of the work. Mr. Royce Carleton and Mr. Gilbert Farquhar give able and well considered performances of a base and treacherous hypocrite, and a kindly and benevolent old gentleman, called respectively Blifil and Mr. Alworthy. Miss Kate Rorke is a charming heroine, Miss Forsyth a bright and impulsive rustic, and Miss Lottie Venne a vivacious lady’s maid. Miss Larkin plays an old maid of severe aspect, and Miss Carlotta Leclercq exhibits the airs of a vicious woman of rank.



The Stage (15 October, 1886 - p.13)

     Robert Buchanan’s adaptation of Fielding’s “Tom Jones” was revived very successfully at the Vaudeville Theatre on Saturday evening. Although Sophia has many faults as a play, and although it is an adaptation which is most satisfactory to those least acquainted with Fielding’s novel, it interests and pleases the ordinary spectator. The chief alteration in the cast was the substitution of Mr. Charles Warner for Mr. Charles Glenney in the part of Tom Jones. Mr. Warner cannot by any means be accepted as an ideal embodiment of Fielding’s hero; he is either too melodramatic or too farcical, as the fancy moves him, but the audience seem to appreciate his rendering of the character. Miss Helen Forsyth as Molly Seagrim and Mr. Thomas Thorne as Partridge once more successfully resume their admirable impersonations. The remainder of the cast, which includes Miss Kate Rorke as the heroine, Mr. Royce Carleton as Blifil, Mr. Gilbert Farquhar as Allworthy, Mr. Fuller Mellish as Seagrim, Miss Rose Leclercq as Lady Bellaston, Miss Sophie Larkin as Miss Western, Mr. Fred Thorne as Squire Western, and Miss Lottie Venne as Honour, is substantially the same as in the original production of Mr. Buchanan’s adaptation.



The Athenæum (16 October, 1886 - No. 3077, p.509)



     VAUDEVILLE.—Revival of ‘Sophia,’ a Comedy in Four Acts,
founded on ‘Tom Jones.’ By Robert Buchanan.
PRINCESS’S.—‘My Lord in Livery,’ a Farce. By S. Theyre Smith
COURT.—‘The Nettle,’ a Comedietta. By Ernest Warren.

     UPON its revival at the Vaudeville, whence it had been temporarily withdrawn, ‘Sophia,’ Mr. Buchanan’s adaptation from ‘Tom Jones,’ proves as amusing as before. That all that is characteristic in the novel should disappear was inevitable. It is no more easy to bring within the focus of the stage what is comic in the views of Mr. Square than what is unconventional in the adventures of Tom Jones. The slightest infusion of caricature is fatal to characters such as Squire Western and Molly Seagrim, which are drawn with all conceivable breadth, yet caricature in a stage presentation is all but inevitable. Those characters meanwhile in which excess of colour can be avoided become merely conventional. What is required of the playgoer is to accept the intention of the dramatist, and before all things not to fortify himself for the spectacle by a reperusal of ‘Tom Jones.’ Mr. Buchanan does not advance ‘Sophia’ as by Fielding, and there is no need to regard it as such. It has just as much of Fielding as adaptations of Scott and Dickens have of those writers, and is in its way better than most of these. Regarded in this light it is an entertaining piece, a little abrupt in transitions and, so to speak, jerky, but capable of furnishing much amusement. The performance is easier than when first seen, but more modern. One or two presentations, notably the Miss Western of Miss Larkin, are not to be told from other performances of the same actors in farcical comedy. On the other hand some of the personages have a distinct identity. Mr. Thorne’s Partridge is a humorous conception, the comic aspects being heightened by some quiet tenderness; Mr. Farquhar shows well the feebleness and vacillation of Mr. Allworthy; Mr. Royce Carleton is sleek and dangerous as Blifil; and Mr. Charles Warner, who appears for the first time as Tom Jones, has earnestness and animal spirits that are infectious, and is so amused at his own indiscretions it is difficult for Sophia to visit with stern condemnation what sits so lightly upon his spirits. Miss Kate Rorke is natural and sympathetic as the heroine; Miss Forsyth shows the attractive and bucolic aspects of Molly Seagrim—more she is not allowed to show; Miss Lottie Venne is fantastically loyal to her mistress as Mrs. Honour; and Miss Rose Leclercq acts in a spirit of genuine comedy as Lady Bellaston.



The Illustrated London News (16 October, 1886 - p.6)


Few who have not experienced the difficulty that attends the manufacture of plays out of novels can appreciate the rare cleverness of Robert Buchanan’s “Sophia.” For years it has been held that Fielding’s “Tom Jones” would never make a play. Those who proposed it were laughed to scorn. The indelicacy of the language, the license awarded to writers in Fielding’s time, the riskiness of the situations—all stood in the way of any dramatist anxious to winnow the wheat from the chaff. But, behold! “Tom Jones” has been turned into a very good and highly moral play, without one word or situation in it that could offend the prudish or censorious. The revival of “Sophia” at the Vaudeville is well timed, for we want some counteracting influence in the shape of a strong manly play to the pretty effeminacy of so-called comic operas. It is refreshing to see a strong indignant man thrashing a coward, and hypocrisy falling under the lash of indignation, in these days of finnicking man-millinery, when the greater portion of the stage is occupied with crowds of vacant-looking girls in the gayest and richest of costumes. Squire Western’s tongue has been cleansed, it is true; Lady Bellaston’s eccentricities have been toned down; the escapades of Mr. Ephraim Square and Molly Seagrim have been spared us; Mr. Jones and Blifil have been Bowdlerised almost as much as the new child’s “Robinson Crusoe.” But for all that the whiff of diluted Fielding comes fresh and sweet after the stale musk and patchouli of the petticoat drama. The only strong fault I have to find with the general representation of “Sophia” is the occasional inability of the actors and actresses of the various parts to get into the spirit of the age depicted on the stage. The language may be Fielding’s, but the acting is decidedly modern. They wear old-fashioned clothes, but they talk with the twang of to-day. It is only possible to express exactly what I mean by comparison. When they played “Olivia,” both at the Court and at the Lyceum, I really do think that we were irresistibly transported to the village of Wakefield in the days of Oliver Goldsmith. There was no suggestion of the modern Strand in the picture presented to us. It was not only the language adopted, or the scenery employed, or the spinet in the corner, or the old clock on the stairs. We were conveyed by the playing into the days of our great grandmothers, and it gave to the play a great and very decided charm. Now, as a rule, this is not done at the Vaudeville: it is not so much done as it was at the outset. The actors and actresses are not so impregnated with or steeped in Henry Fielding as the others were with Goldsmith. The play goes with spirit, certainly; but it requires tone and distinction. Occasionally, but very rarely, one gets a whiff of Fielding. Certainly we do in the scene between Molly Seagrim and Blifil—characters admirably played and understood by Miss Kate Forsyth and Mr. Royce Carleton. Miss Forsyth’s performance is genuine comedy; there is no modern manner here. The actress becomes the good-hearted, trusting, romping, reckless poacher’s daughter, who admires a “fine figure of a man,” be he saint or sinner. Mr. Carleton also has made a clever and conscientious study of the time-serving Blifil. The small characters of Mr. Allworthy and of Lady Bellaston are also carefully and distinctly sketched by Mr. Gilbert Farquhar and Miss Rose Leclercq. The Sophia of Miss Kate Rorke could not fail to be a pretty performance; but I do not find any very special distinction in it. It is a pretty girl, for Miss Rorke is a pretty girl; but it is more Miss Kate Rorke than Sophia. In the same way, Miss Larkin is far more Miss Larkin than Miss Western. It must be funny, because Miss Larkin is funny. She cannot fail to make the audience laugh. But here, at least, was an opportunity for getting away from the oglings and the squirms of modern farcical comedy. Mr. Charles Warner keeps the play together with his determined spirit. He can be gay, and he can be tender also. He is manly and genuine. All he wants here is style. This would be a splendid, rattling, rollicking, impulsive, and impetuous bit of acting in a modern melodrama, where heroes have to jump off bridges in the Regent’s Park, or to apostrophize virtue on the Thames Embankment; but it is not quite “Tom Jones.” All that is wanted is a little study, for we know by his celebrated Coupeau that Mr. Charles Warner can become another man. Mr. Thomas Thorne’s Partridge continues to be what it was at the outset: a gently humorous and lovingly tender portraiture, one of the happiest features in the play. Let the actor, however, take care lest the applause given to points should interfere with the consistency and nature of the sketch. It is well to please the gallery, but not at the expense of the play.



The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (16 October, 1886 - p.8)



     THE run of Mr. Robert Buchanan’s Sophia, interrupted for some time by the revival of The Road to Ruin, is now resumed at the Vaudeville with more signs of complete popular success than were given by its first hundred nights. There is only one noteworthy change in the cast, but this is of no small importance, for it invests Mr. Buchanan’s Tom Jones with exactly the sympathetic interest needed by the scheme of the play. We say Mr. Buchanan’s Tom Jones advisedly, for the creation has little save the name in common with Fielding’s famous realistic hero. In his cheery recklessness, his generous faults, and his amicable weaknesses, he comes, perhaps, nearer to the novelist’s original than do the rest of the dramatis personæ. But to say this is to say very little, for as an adaptation Mr. Buchanan’s work is very wide of the mark indeed. Even by those whose recollection of Fielding’s full-blooded romance is of the vaguest, it will be felt that Sophia loses the spirit in modifying the substance. Indeed, it may well be doubted whether, without the labels attached to them by their borrowed nomenclature, such folk as the Squire Western and the partridge, the Molly Seagrim and the Lady Bellaston of the Vaudeville, would have been identified as the stage representatives of the figures in the novel.
     The comedy, however, albeit too commonplace, conventional, and uninspired to be worthy of its origin, has many features which legitimately commend it to the favour of the less exacting class of playgoers. It sets forth lucidly the ever sympathetic story of the genial prodigal’s triumphant rehabilitation and the smug hypocrite’s discomfiture; it affords opportunity for well-defined if somewhat superficial studies of character; and it works up trite material in a business-like and effective way. Its dialogue, if not very brilliant, is generally characteristic and to the point, its action is brisk, and its motives adequate albeit stagey in development. As has been said, the new representative of Tom Jones, Mr. Charles Warner, commands fresh sympathy for that jovial ne’er do well. He is a little large for the stage perhaps, his laughter is sometimes rather loud, and his personal attack upon the Blifil seems more violent than the occasion demands. On the other hand his treatment of the difficult drunken scene in the first act strikes us as singularly happy, his robust manliness is very winning, and his occasional pathos strikes a perfectly true keynote. The new Tom is altogether more lovable than the old, and more recognisable as the lover whose indiscretions would be forgiven by his mistress over and over again. This mistress again finds in Miss Kate Rorke the most charming of representatives—picturesque in the old-world attire now once more in fashion, and spirited in her assertion of maidenly dignity. Mr. Thorne is once more thoroughly at home in the quaint humour of Tom’s loyal friend Partridge. Mr. Royce Carleton shows no falling off in the incisive vigour of his Blifil—an impersonation which augurs a bright future for the young actor should he survive the nightly onslaughts of his equally earnest colleague, Mr. Warner. Miss S. Larkin, Miss R. Leclerq, And Miss Lottie Venne, if not seen to special advantage, are at least able to give substantial and characteristic aid to the performance; whilst the bland Allworthy of Mr. Gilbert Farquhar, and the very unconventional Molly of Miss H. Forsyth, are both excellent. A full house showed hearty appreciation of the revival.



The Portsmouth Evening News (2 November, 1886 - p.2)


     Mr. Robert Buchanan, whose play “Sophia” was produced at the Theatre Royal last night, has the distinction of being the only dramatist who ever succeeded in making a presentable version for the stage of Fielding’s novel, “Tom Jones.” Other dramatists have tried it, but the difficulties presented by the character of the hero and the coarseness of the scenes proved insurmountable. But in “Sophia,” which is one of the most notable of recent London successes, and which is admirably played by the company now in Portsmouth, the characters and the incidents of the play have been judiciously toned down to suit the requirements of modern delicacy, and the result is a fresh and delightful comedy, no less remarkable for its exciting action than for its healthy moral tone. To secure this result, Mr. Buchanan has of course had to take great liberties with the famous work of fiction. The Tom Jones of the play is no wild, thoughtless rake, who makes us love him in spite of his abandoned character. He is transformed into a young gentleman who, though temporarily misunderstood, is of irreproachable conduct. His misfortunes have, in fact, something in them of modern melodrama, in which virtue if crushed during four acts, and comes out triumphantly in the fifth. Opinions may differ as to this being an improvement on the original, but it is certain that if Mr. Buchanan had put Fielding’s Tom Jones on the stage, the chord of dramatic sympathy between audience and players would never have been struck. The action of the comedy is as much Mr. Buchanan’s as Fielding’s. In the first act, for instance, Tom Jones’s relations with Molly Seagrim are simply those of charity. The second and third acts are taken up with comic scenes in partridge’s shop prior to Sophia’s flight from Blifil; and with Tom’s garret life in London while searching for Sophia and resisting the overtures of Lady Bellaston. Tom is made the prey of circumstances in this garret in a treble sense, for at one time he has Sophia’s maid in a cupboard, Lady Bellaston in one room, and Sophia in another, while Squire Western breaks into the apartment in search of a daughter. The consequent disclosures are very effective from a stage point of view. In the fourth act everything is put right in the Bull and Gate Inn, Holborn, where Blifil is unmasked, Lady Bellaston confounded, Tom Jones vindicated, and everything put in training for the reward of virtue. And if virtue is rewarded in the form of Tom Jones, we may smile, but we are forced to acknowledge the impossibility of any other dramatic presentment. Mr. Frank Cooper, an excellent player, long associated with Mr. Wilson Barrett, is Tom Jones, and although at the outset we don’t expect to meet with such a serious character, Mr. Cooper reconciles us to the change by his powerful acting. The changeable moods of this hero, who is transformed in a moment from rage to gentleness, from sullenness to brightness, from defiance to penitence, are depicted with great skill, and form one of the features of the comedy as played by Mr. Thorne’s company. Miss Lilian Gillmore makes a sweet and trustful Sophia, not without a fine spirit when circumstances are dead against her lover, but with all the trembling gentleness of Fielding’s exquisite creation. Along with Mr. Cooper and Miss Gillmore must be ranked Mr. A. Wood, whose powers as a comedian are shown to great advantage in his conception of Partridge, and Mr. C. A. White, who is a positively rampant Squire Western, making the stage redolent of roast beef and home-brewed ale, fox-hunting, and country dances the moment he sets foot on it. Blifil, in the hands of Mr. A. Harding, is duly execrated by the gallery; Miss Gladys Homfrey gives a finished rendering of Lady Bellaston; Miss Lilian Secombe’s Molly Seagrim is a clever bit of character acting; Miss Carbury is sufficiently pert as Honour, the maid; and the remaining characters are all efficiently represented. “Sophia” will be played each night this week, and is certainly something to be seen.



The New York Times (5 November, 1886)



     When Mr. Robert Buchanan first conceived the idea of making a play out of “Tom Jones” he had undoubtedly read the book. The malicious insinuations to the contrary that found their way recently into English newspapers do not deserve consideration. The play called “Sophia” bears several marks of relationship to Fielding’s master work. Most of the characters bear names to be found in the novel, and the framework of the plot is very similar in both works. Tom Jones, in both, is a foundling befriended by Allworthy, loved by Sophia, wronged by Blifil, persecuted by Lady Bellaston, served by Partridge. But if Mr. Buchanan had seen fit to provide other names for his characters he would have given no offense, and might even have escaped a measure of critical censure. For besides the framework of the plot, which is not strikingly ingenious, and the names of the characters, there is little enough of Fielding in the play; not only is the frank indelicacy of that great genius very properly avoided, but the truth, the humor, and the humanity of “Tom Jones” are very faintly reflected in the play, so that Mr. Buchanan’s announcement of his indebtedness to Fielding might suggest, to a cynical person, that he sought to bolster up his own literary reputation by coupling it with the immortal Fielding’s.
     At any rate the statement that “Sophia” was a new version of “Tom Jones” sent people to Wallack’s Theatre last evening with anticipations that were not fulfilled. They went thinking of Fielding; wondering what sort of a person Squire Western would be on the stage; expecting a perpetual flow of unstrained merriment from Partridge,—and they left the theatre disappointed because the Squire turned out to be such a commonplace old bully, and Partridge was not Partridge at all. Now, on the other hand, if Mr. Buchanan had laid less stress upon his debt to Fielding he would not have thrown his own work into comparison with Fielding’s, an unwise thing for any writer to do, and quite as dangerous an action as for Mr. Boucicault, for instance, to compare himself with Shakespeare. With the shade of Fielding uplifted from its surface “Sophia” would have been recognized as a laboriously constructed four-act piece, in which the persons and manners of English life in the eighteenth century are depicted in a style copied after the dramatists of that century—a play with a little sentiment in it, a touch of pathos, a trifle of mild fun, and a great deal of dreary commonplace. In other words, Mr. Buchanan, having in the past tried his hand at modern comedy without distinguished success, has now taken a hack at old comedy and produced what would be termed, in the choice speech of this era, a “back number,” with a surprisingly antique flavor. Thus placing himself among the writers of old English comedy Mr. Buchanan probably expects to be criticised according to the standard of criticism applied to Goldsmith and Sheridan; but we really have neither time nor space this morning to gratify his wish.
     Such examination as there is time to bestow upon “Sophia” will disclose the fact that the heroine is a weak and colorless character, with little of the matchless charm of the old Squire’s daughter, with whom Fielding himself was so much in love; that partridge is the low comedy serving man of a hundred comedies; that Western is the fox-hunting gentleman of every writer of comedies from Congreve to Boucicault; that Molly Seagrim, Black George, and Philosopher Square, strong characters in the novel, are personages of little account in the play; that Allworthy is an insignificant “second old man,” and that Lady Bellaston, one of the most remarkable creations in English fiction, is treated in the play in a way which only Squire Western (Fielding’s Squire) could appropriately describe. Tom Jones, purified and changed into a passive victim, makes a good enough sort of a hero, and Blifil, though an evident villain from the start, fills his position well enough in a dramatic sense. There are some pretty passages in “Sophia,” and some amusing ones, and in the hands of Mr. Wallack’s actors it will fill out a part of the season agreeably; but it is not a strong play, or a continuously interesting one.
     Mr. Charles Groves, a new member of the company, was seen last evening for the first time. His character was Partridge. He is an easy and natural actor, with a fund of humor of his own, plenty of vivacity, and an agreeable  presence. His features are expressive and his movements graceful. Miss Kate Bartlett distinguished herself as the pert serving woman, Honour, a loquacious personage very familiar on the stage. Miss Katherine Rogers’s conception of Lady Bellaston was worse than Mr. Buchanan’s, and her execution was worse than her conception. The cast also included Miss Robe as Sophia, Mme. Ponisi as her aunt, Mr. Edwards as Western, Miss Coote as Molly Seagrim, Mr. Henley as Blifil, and Mr. Kyrie Bellew as Tom Jones. The scenery was very pretty, and the entire performance smooth and intelligent.



The Pall Mall Gazette (30 November, 1886 - p.3)

     It appears that the English cemetery at Lisbon is in a state of disgraceful neglect. Here, as every one knows, Henry Fielding is buried, and here, as every one does not know, “cartloads of the bones of British soldiers,” collected from the battlefields of the Peninsular War, were deposited after 1810. The tomb of Fielding, so a recent visitor writes to the Times, is entirely overgrown, and even the inscription is in places obliterated. This is certainly not as it should be, and if the English residents in Lisbon have not sufficient patriotic piety to tend Fielding’s tomb it devolves on literary England to see that it be rescued from its present state of neglect. Might not Mr. Robert Buchanan at once advertise “Sophia” and express his gratitude toward Fielding by trimming and whitewashing his monument as he has trimmed and whitewashed “Tom Jones”? It would be a graceful act of expiation.


[Note: This item was reprinted in The New York Times on 19th December, 1886.]



Penny Illustrated Paper (11 December, 1886)


     All hail to the Holiday Season! Let us all unite to bid dull care begone!

. . .

     Christmas finds all tastes catered for. In the way of comedy, there’s nothing more artistic than Mr. Robert Buchanan’s Vaudeville edition of “Tom Jones”—yclept, “Sophia”—in which pretty Miss Kate Rorke is mated with a gallant Tom in Mr. Charles Warner, and Tom Thorne shines as the barber Partridge. “The next, please!” . . .



[click the picture for the complete illustration]


The Standard (28 December, 1886 - p.2)


     On literary grounds the success of Sophia at the Vaudeville is not altogether a cause for congratulation. That Mr. Robert Buchanan’s maltreatment of Fielding’s famous book should have been accepted by playgoers proves too surely that the great novelist’s work can be little known, for students of Fielding, to whom his characters must of necessity be living realities, could not patiently endure the perversions of them which the playwright has taken the liberty of labelling with names most unwarrantably seized. Yet there is a strength in Fielding’s story which the adaptor has not been able entirely to blur; something of the original is retained, a semblance of the humanity which in the historian of “Tom Jones” was so vivid and powerful, and the fact remains that the piece has been acted nearly two hundred times. The explanation can only be that a large section of playgoers are ignorant of Fielding. Tom Jones is to them merely a light-hearted young fellow in love with a charming girl, persecuted by an extravagant species of Joseph Surface, and befriended by a droll friend in humble life. Here is material for an effective drama. Doubtless the success of Sophia is mainly owing to the ability with which the parts are filled. Miss Kate Rorke makes a delightful heroine, and Miss Forsyth a very piquant rustic—called Molly Seagrim, but bearing not the faintest resemblance to the original. Mr. Thorne’s Barber is found to be extremely diverting; and skill is exhibited by the representatives of other parts, Mr. Leonard Boyne, who has lately assumed the character called Tom Jones, Messrs. Royce Carleton, Gilbert Farquhar, Miss Lottie Venne, and the rest.



The Morning Post (10 January, 1887 - p.2)

     The two hundredth representation of “Sophia” at the Vaudeville will be given on Saturday evening.



The West Australian (15 January, 1887 - p.6)


     Curious unrehearsed scenes are often enacted in our theatres, and the stage is not always the place on which they occur. Some little amusement was created amongst the audience in the pit at the Vaudeville Theatre, London, lately. During Lady Bellastone’s love scene with Tom Jones in the third act of “Sophia” a lady rose from her seat, and, being carried away by the acting, in a most excited manner screamed out, “You old cat.” The accomplished actress, Miss Leclercq, did not resent the remark, but afterwards expressed herself highly pleased at what she considered was a high compliment to her acting.


[Three posters for the touring production of Sophia at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, 21st March, 1887, courtesy of the National Library of Scotland.]


The Edinburgh Evening News (22 March, 1887 - p.2)


     In dramatising Fielding’s novel, Mr Buchanan was compelled to Bowdlerise to an extent which almost completely transforms the hero of the original. Considering the difficulties in his way, Mr Buchanan has shown no little skill in weaving his plot and sketching his characters. Dramatically its main fault consists in a certain crudity and hurriedness of action at the close. The piece last night was in competent hands. Mr Brodie was successful in the earlier scenes, but fell off slightly as the play went on, through the natural mistake of conceiving an 18th century character on the lines of a modern melodrama. As Sophia, Miss Millett was highly effective, only requiring, in order to be flawless in her part, to guard against elocutionary mannerism. Mr Edgar as Partridge imparted to the character a number of subtle touches. He was successful in distinguishing between comedy and farce in his reading of his part. A good piece of acting was also witnessed in the part of Molly Seagrim, undertaken by Miss Caldwell. The other characters were also well sustained, particularly the insignificant part of the poacher, which, as played last night, was a capital piece of acting. There was a good and enthusiastic house.



The Illustrated London News (16 April, 1887 - p.6)


Easter so far has been dull enough in the way of actual novelty. Holiday audiences have assembled to see plays for the most part well worn, and must wait until London has settled down to work again before any excitement prevails in the theatrical world. True it is a novelty—but not wholly without precedent—to see a pantomime revived on Easter eve, and to mingle the jokes of clown and pantaloon with spring flowers, sunshine, and singing birds; but, apart from that, the theatres have kept on the even course of success, and have now little to do but to sail pleasantly along until the warm summer weather makes playing impossible. A short poetical play by Mr. Robert Buchanan at the Vaudeville, called “A Dark Night’s Bridal,” does not need any very elaborate comment. It singularly failed in attraction, not so much from want of skill in composition as from the deplorably modern manner, that, apparently, is resolved to strangle the poetical drama in its birth. Miss Kate Rorke and Mr. Fuller Mellish are both clever artists in their own line, but that line is certainly not imagination or fancy. But how can it be otherwise? The modern young man and the modern young lady have been reared on farcical comedy or realistic drama. They were never trained on Shakspeare or nursed on the elder dramatists. The modern tone, the modern manner, the modern pronunciation, the modern speech, are hopelessly inapplicable to plays of fancy, or to dramas with any flavour of poetry in them. So Mr. Buchanan’s play missed its mark, for the audience could not, from the manner in which it was acted, decided if they were seeing a serious drama or a roaring farce, whether it was an imitation of Sheridan Knowles or W. S. Gilbert. Out of half-a-dozen critics, three voted it was a satire and the other three a poem. However, the uncertainty that prevailed concerning the little play does not interfere with the success of “Sophia,” which is at once the best acted and the most interesting play to be now seen in London. The Tom Jones of Mr. Leonard Boyne is an excellent performance, thoughtful, well-considered, and picturesque. The young actor is full of fervour, his power and passion are well under control, and there is thought in all his work. When he makes love, he shows the audience that his heart is in his work, and does not seem to say, as so many of his companions do, “Never mind the love-scene, do look and see what a pretty fellow I am.” When Mr. Boyne is engaged in a love-scene, he is not posing for a photographer or for a book of beauty, but his thoughts are engaged on the object of his devotion, not on himself. The happy result of such earnestness is that the play goes better than it ever did before. Mr. Thorne’s Partridge is another capital performance; and it is a treat to see the bright eyes and natural rustic manner of Miss Forsyth as Molly Seagrim.


[Cover of the programme for the 350th performance of Sophia on Wednesday, June 15th, 1887,
with opinions of the play from W. E. Gladstone and Henry Irving on the front page.]


The Morning Post (20 September, 1887)


     A cordial welcome awaited Mr. Thomas Thorne and his company last night, when, for the four hundredth time, Mr. Robert Buchanan’s bright and thoroughly English play, “Sophia,” was performed. Never were the madcap freaks and faithful devotion of Tom Jones, the knaveries of Blifil, the humours of the Squire, and the constant love of his beauteous daughter better appreciated, for never were they portrayed with more spirit. Mr. Thomas Thorne has improved if it were possible, the admirable study of character presented by his Partridge many little touches of homely pathos, his impersonation of the worthy barber and phlebotomist remaining one of the most effective of his creations. Mr. Leonard Boyne, who succeeded Mr. Charles Warner some time since as Tom Jones, acted with a natural dignity and manly force, which contrasted well with the cunning malice, and smooth-tongued hypocrisy of Blifil, played with well-judged coolness and effrontery by Mr. Royce Carleton. Squire Western and Mr. Allworthy found efficient representatives in Mr. Fred Thorne and Mr. Gilbert Farquhar, George Seagrim and Square being safe in the hands of Mr. J. Wheatman and Mr. F. Grove. The ladies included in the cast are all excellent in their respective characters. The Sophia of Miss Kate Rorke lacks nothing of its old sweetness and grace, and it would be difficult to imagine a more delightfully piquant Honour than Miss Lottie Venne. Miss Sophie Larkin and Miss Rose Leclercq are also satisfactory as Miss Western and Lady Bellaston. Miss Maude Millett appeared for the first time as Molly Seagrim, and by her girlish innocence and rustic beauty made a charming little maid of the poacher’s daughter and achieved a distinct success. “Sophia” is one of the happiest of Mr. Buchanan’s efforts, the spirit of Fielding is impressed on every line, and within the limits of a four-act play the leading incidents of the novel are cleverly embodied. The revival was in every way a success, and “Sophia” will doubtless remain in the bill at the Vaudeville for many nights to come.



The Athenæum (24 September, 1887)

VAUDEVILLE.—Revival of ‘Sophia,’ a Drama in Four Acts.
Extracted from Fielding’s ‘Tom Jones’ by Robert Buchanan.

. . .

     Whatever may be, from the standpoint of regard for Fielding, the shortcomings of ‘Sophia,’ the adaptation may at least claim to stir an amount of sympathy, interest, and amusement such as few pieces of recent birth have provoked. Played as it already has been four hundred times, it still, upon its revival at the Vaudeville, elicits from the audience a response that proves its appeal direct and irresistible. ‘Sophia’ has, in short, a breezy freshness and unconventionality that are no longer common. Its interest is direct, earnest, and human. Regarded as a rendering of the characters of ‘Tom Jones,’ the interpretation is open to objection. We are nevertheless glad to have a series of performances such as the Partridge of Mr. Thorne, which in ripening has greatly improved, the Tom Jones of Mr. Boyne, Mr. Farquhar’s Mr. Allworthy, Mr. Carleton’s Blifil, Miss Kate Rorke’s Sophia, Miss Venne’s Honour, Miss Rose Leclercq’s Lady Bellaston, and Miss Millett’s Molly Seagrim.



The Stage (30 September, 1887 - p.13)

     Mr. Thomas Thorne has purchased from Robert Buchanan the sole acting rights of Sophia in England, America, and the Colonies—a good bargain, for Sophia is a clever play, and will live.



The Theatre (New York) (24 October, 1887)


     OCTOBER 21.—“Sophia” was produced for the first time in this city Monday night last at the Museum. It was originally produced at the Vaudeville Theatre, London, on April 12th, 1886, where it is still running. The play is founded on Fielding’s famous romance, “Tom Jones,” and its author, Mr. Robert Buchanan, well deserves the lavish praises of the English press if its reception here is construed into a likemindedness in matters dramatic. With singular strength does his treatment of a morally dangerous work appeal to the refined taste. That his imitators have lately obtained evanescent notoriety in the same field is established by the failure of the adaptations of “As in a Looking-Glass,” which, aside from its inherent grossness, deserves no criticism. But “Tom Jones” contains elements which, in skillful hands, are dramatically transmissible. Mr. Buchanan has retained in each character thus treated all the original and abounding pictures of human nature, tenderness, beauty and purity invested therein by Fielding, without affecting or lessening their importance or relationship. The character of Sophia Western dominates the play, as it does the novel, and points the moral that adorns each with admirable force. The wholesome appreciation of these and other features of the novel, when joined to the adaptor’s personal ability as such, have produced in “Sophia” a drama that faithfully depicts the spirit, while it avoids the coarse suggestiveness of the former, and illustrates the force of his remark that, “ Tom Jones’ is great, not because of its uncleanness, but in spite of it.”
     With the “in spite of it” as the corner-stone “Sophia” is constructed with well-selected scenes, ingeniously arranged and complicated. The comedy element is well sustained throughout and the dialogue is excellent. The first act serves to introduce the foundling Tom Jones, who, by reason of his love for Sophia Western, has reformed his erstwhile morally irregular mode of life, and sees before him one of purity and social standing. Athwart this honest resolve runs the nephew Blifil, also Sophia’s suitor; and Tom’s championship of George and Molly Seagrim produces with the nephew’s “moral philosophy” a rupture ’twixt himself and Mr. Allworthy. Tom therefore lands in the street sans home or cash. In the second act Tom’s noble friend, Partridge, the village barber, is introduced, and the plot increases until the third act opens with all the interested personages in London. Two scenes, the first laid in Lady Bellaston’s house, and the second in Tom’s garret lodgings, lend to the movement additional vigor and amusing complications, which in the fourth act obtain a solution alike satisfactory to the spectator and the cause of true love and virtue.
     Throughout the play, which must be acceptable to the most prudent observer, Tom Jones is not what Fielding created him. However, Mr. Buchanan has left in him that suspicion of lineal descent from the great author’s brain altogether sufficient for theatric purpose, and without weakening the original manliness of one thus purified. That Sophia, all in all, is a type of maidenly purity and faithfulness; that Lady Bellaston, Molly Seagrim, Squire Western and his sister, Miss Tabitha, Blifil and his tutor, Square, Partridge and Mr. Allworthy, with their eighteenth century modes and ideas, renew our acquaintance with Fielding’s masterpiece and to the uninitiated more than suggest his quality, are potent factors in a delightful play. Its performance by the Museum stock company, entirely considered, was most satisfactory; full of dash and spirit. Mr. Barron’s Tom Jones, in conception and delineation, was a pronounced success. It was sincere, manly and artistic; portrayed with a lightness of touch and refinement of method that made the character in every respect a direct appeal to sympathetic attention, while it gained intelligent approval for a close adherence to the author’s spirit. The open-hearted, honest qualities of Tom were presented with a vigorousness that stamp Mr. Barron’s work as that of rare appreciation and close study in a difficult rôle.
     As Blifil, Mr. E. L. Davenport won high honors. His conception of this hypocritical scamp was delightfully artistic and replete in those qualities which bespeak for him a grand position in the profession he already graces with singular skill where age is considered. To Mr. Seymour is accorded the praise due to a rich and forceful bit of character-work, which in make-up was only surpassed by the excellence of his total surrender to the demands of Squire Western, so aptly conceived that his greatest admirer was at a loss to place him in the choleric old guardian of Sophia’s interests in the first act. Mr. Wilson as Partridge was perfect. His keen humor and touching pathos never proved more effective. Messrs. Nolan as Square, Whittemore as Parson Supple, Hudson as Mr. Allworthy, and Boardman as George Seagrim were satisfactory.
     Mrs. Farren, who has lately joined the company, did full justice to the character of Tabitha Western. She is a ripe and experienced actress without a doubt. Miss Annie Clarke found in Lady Bellaston, “a woman of fashion,” ample scope for her sterling abilities. In the garret scene with Tom Jones, and in the last, when under exposure for her debasing schemes, her brilliant acting won deserved recognition. While the character of Sophia in no sense placed upon Miss Evesson an unequal burden, it is but simple justice to this young actress to say that until she learns to merge her individualities into those of the author’s creation, her work must prove unsatisfactory. Her reception of a lover’s proposals is always the same; in voice, position and mannerisms there is no change—each and all are those of Miss Isabella Evesson. Her personal appearance in any character is beauty personified. More freedom in action, and a possible sacrifice of this lovely face and figure for the requirements of the momentary stage life she is an integral part of, will advance her art while in no sense slurring these gifts. At times her work is excellent and full of promise. To Miss May Davenport belongs the greatest credit for a difficult piece of acting. Her conception of Molly Seagrim was exquisitely natural and full of artistic touches. So radical a change from her usual line of work was a severe test, most successfully accomplished. The play was handsomely staged and richly dressed; a perfect picture of those times. Its reception was most satisfactory. In conclusion, it would please more than one listener if Mr. Barron will explain how as Tom Jones his vices are “pat-ent” to the world. The mispronunciation was quite pa-tent.
     “A Run of Luck” on the long run at the Boston. The Hollis Street has a new play by Boucicault, “Phryne; the Romance of a Young Wife.” The Globe—French opera; and at the Park, Miss M. Goodwin in “Philopene.” Business good.
                                                                                                                                               Henry Whiting.



The Stage (28 October, 1887 - p.13)

     Mr. Thomas Thorne has purchased of Mr. Robert Buchanan, for a large sum of money, the sole rights of the very successful comedy Sophia.


[Advert for the final performance of Sophia at the Vaudeville from The Morning Post (9 November, 1887).]


From the chapter, ’The Boston Museum’ in The Dramatic Year 1887-1888, edited by Edward Fuller (Boston: Ticknor and Company, 1889 - p. 108-111).
[Note: Sophia opened at the Boston Museum on Monday, October 17th, 1887.]

... Having said this much, we pass on to a brief consideration of “Sophia.” This play, as every one knows, is a dramatization of Fielding’s novel, “Tom Jones.” We should like to write Fielding’s familiar novel; but we fear that the  self-constituted censorship of morals at the Boston Public Library (and other similar institutions, no doubt) has made the epithet impossible. It is much safer to say of one of the most brilliant of English novelists what was once said with truth of the greatest of English dramatists—that every one talks about him and no one reads him. With that self-sufficient class of modern writers to whom Thackeray is already a barbarian, Fielding is a hissing and a byword. How much of the well- nigh utter neglect into which he has fallen is due to the rigid propriety of the age, we will not attempt in this place to discuss; but it may be remarked in passing that it is doubtful if we are so very much the superior of our ancestors in virtue, and that our rage is not so much against vice as against vice unadorned. Fielding is tabooed, but we do not find that “Ouida” is yet altogether a literary outcast. This is, however, somewhat aside from the question of the merits of Mr. Buchanan’s play, which can never for a moment raise any ethical suspicions in the mind of the most prudent. Mr. Buchanan has left us a hint of the fact that Tom Jones is a sad dog; but his specifications (outside of the Lady Bellaston incident) are so vague that they carry little positive conviction. Besides, Tom’s conduct toward Lady Bellaston is made on the whole so irreproachable, and his treatment of Molly Seagrim (another inconvenient episode) is so blameless, that he fairly poses throughout the play in an attitude not unbecoming the virtuous hero of melodrama. It is here, perhaps, that Mr. Buchanan has erred on the side of delicacy; though leaving the literary and taking the purely dramatic point of view, it is difficult to say what other course was open to him. It was obviously impossible that he should make Tom Jones all that Fielding made him; idealization was absolutely necessary; but at the same time the purifying process may possibly have been carried too far. We do not mean by this that we would have liked to see the play made coarse or vulgar; but there is always a danger to real strength and virility in the process of Bowdlerizing, and this danger Mr. Buchanan has not altogether escaped. But it would be unfair, on the other hand, not to recognize the fact that he has preserved the healthy, hearty atmosphere of the novel to a gratifying extent, and that he has left Tom Jones himself a good share of the essential manliness and honour with which his creator endowed him. It is upon Sophia Weston, however, that the interest of the play largely depends; Mr. Buchanan is entirely right in his assertion that that gracious figure “dominates his drama as it really dominates the novel.” There are few more lovable characters in all English fiction than she; we must come to Thackeray’s Laura Pendennis before we find one who can compare with her in maidenly faithfulness and purity. The blackness of the world around her only makes more radiant her whiteness of soul. This world of rakes of both sexes Mr. Buchanan has transferred from the novel to the play with admirable fidelity and discretion. Squire Weston, Lady Bellaston, Molly Seagrim, and Blifil step down from their eighteenth-century frames into our modern atmosphere, and give even the spectator who is unacquainted with his Fielding a taste of that master-spirit. And the far more genial figures of Allworthy and Partridge become once more vivid and instinct with life to the reader who cherishes for them an affectionate remembrance.
     The performance of “Sophia” at the Museum is rather exasperatingly good and bad. It is not a pleasant task to find fault with so capable an actor as Mr. Barron; but we are compelled to observe that for the dull moments of the piece he is largely responsible. It goes without saying that his impersonation of Tom Jones is sincere, strong and in its way artistic; but it is sincerity without lightness of touch, strength without flexibility and art without eloquence. The essentially robust quality of the character is hardly suggested; the animal good spirits, the pulsing manly passions, the rough directness and candour of the man are not brought at all vividly before the spectator. Refinement is an excellent, an essential thing in art; but the native underlying power must not be rubbed away. Mr. Barron’s Tom Jones, with all its obvious merits, has a thinness and meagreness that robs it of its real impressiveness and vigour. Mr. Davenport’s interpretation of the difficult part of Blifil, on the other hand, has all the qualities of concentration and force of conception which one missed in Tom Jones. His artistic reserve is remarkable in so young an actor, and only once does he really lose his grasp upon the character. Miss Evesson is an ideal Sophia in personal appearance; and, although in one or two critical moments she falls far short of ideal force and fervour, she nevertheless reaches a point of sympathetic feeling which atones in part for her fault. In the quieter moments of the play she is exquisitely natural, and gives renewed promise of that growth in her art which has characterized her career in Boston. Miss Clarke is admirable as the brilliant but debased Lady Bellaston, and her final scene is memorable in its brazen cynicism. Mr. Wilson has a congenial task in portraying the barber, Partridge, and his characteristically rich and genial humour never served him in better stead. Miss Dayne makes a light and deft Honour, and Mrs. Farren is conventionally good as Tabitha Weston. Of Mr. Seymour as the Squire, of Miss Davenport as Mollie Seagrim and of Mr. Nolan as Square it is impossible to say much in praise. Mr. Seymour, in particular, misses the racy flavour of the soil with which the country magnate is redolent. The play is prettily put upon the stage.



The Shields Daily Gazette: Literary Supplement (28 December, 1889 - p.5)

. . . But instances in which a spectator has been so carried away by the feelings aroused and the interest excited by the play, as to loudly interrupt the performances with comic effect, are far from uncommon. The story of the medical student who shouted to the actors to support poor Juliet after she had taken the apparently fatal draught, while he would run for his stomach-pump, is well known. Not long since, during the performance of Mr. Robert Buchanan’s play of “Sophia” one night at Oldham, a very unexpected interruption occurred. In the course of the dialogue Tom Jones had said to Sophia Western, “I have nothing left to offer you—not even the hope of better days to come!” It happened that the landlady of this particular Tom Jones was among the audience, and the good woman was so carried away by the apparent reality of the scene, and by the pathos of her lodger, that loudly and shrilly she cried, “Never heed, lad! Thee has gotten a real good sooper waiting at home; thee bring t’wench wi’ thee!” The effect may be imagined.



The Theatre (1 January, 1890)

[From ‘Our Amateurs’ Play-Box’.]

     There were just four reasons why the Hampstead Club should have tried their hands at Mr. Buchanan’s “Sophia,” and those four just outweighed the eight or ten others there were for leaving it alone. These latter lay in the peculiar unfitness of the club’s utility men to do anything beyond getting into the clothes of the characters of Fielding’s “Tom Jones;” getting into not wearing, be it observed; and in the case of an English classic this becomes a very important point, for it is nothing short of an artistic crime to despoil us of our fancies of Allworthy and Square and Seagrim, Supple and Corpse and Partridge, and try to have us believe they were mild-mannered gentlemen all of a pattern, all a wee bit frightened of lace ruffles, knee-breeches, and frilled shirts, and all with a spirit about equal to that of the clerical heroes of the much esteemed Miss Emma Jane Worboise. The Blifil too could never have taken in even the Hampstead version of his benefactor; and as Fielding insists so very strongly on the insinuating qualities of his double-distilled Joseph Surface, in addition to the others’ clearly defined qualities, one had to drop four-fifths of the players and concentrate one’s attention on the minority who composed the four reasons pro the play. Mr. H. W. Preston is a talented actor, ingenious and finished in character parts, but a little out of his element as a hero; his Tom, however, was frank and honest, picturesque and interesting, and where he failed to move his audience it was as much their fault as his. Mr. Morton Henry was quite as highly coloured as Squire Western as was Mr. Fred Thorne, and the amateur had the advantage of knowing how to tone down some of the coarseness. Miss K. Sinclair gave us a portrait of Molly in all her simplicity and waywardness we wish never to see fade, and Mrs. Thompson in the gentler scenes of Sophia could scarcely have been excelled for charm and naturalness. These were the four by whose means the whole edifice was saved, and who won for the play a reception that would have delighted even Mr. Buchanan; but when next the Hampstead actors choose old comedy, let them keep a warier eye on the utility, or else engage Mr. Charles Harris to stage manage.



The Era (11 October, 1890 - p.9)

On Monday, Oct. 6th, Mr Robert Buchanan’s
Vaudeville Comedy-Drama,

Mr Allworthy   ..........................    Mr J. MUNRO
Squire Western ........................     Mr J. B. HOWE
Blifil                 ..........................    Mr W. STEADMAN
Tom Jones      ..........................     Mr ALGERNON SYMS
Square             ..........................    Mr W. GLENNY
Parson Supple  ..........................    Mr JOHNSON
Farmer Copse  ..........................    Mr F. BEAUMONT
Partridge          ..........................    Mr W. GARDINER
George Seagrim ........................    Mr E. LEIGH
Gamekeeper     .........................     Mr BARRETT
Fotheringay      .........................    Mr GREGORY
Sophia Western ........................    Miss OLIPH WEBB
Miss Tabitha Western ..............     Miss M. PETTIFER
Mistress Honor .........................     Mrs S. LANE
Lady Bellaston ..........................    Miss M. GRIFFITHS
Molly Seagrim ..........................     Miss M. MARSHALL

     If any of those who imagine that high-class comedy is very much above the heads of East-end playgoers have recently visited the vast establishment at Hoxton that recognises the rule of Mrs Sara Lane, they must have had their error corrected and their judgment convinced, for crowded audiences have by the deepest interest, interrupted only by the loudest of laughter, shown their keen and hearty appreciation of Mr Robert Buchanan’s Vaudeville piece, dramatised from Fielding’s celebrated novel “Tom Jones.” They have made quite a warm favourite of Partridge, and it is most likely that for some time to come his catch-phrase peculiar to the tonsorial calling, “Next, please,” will be often heard among the lively Hoxtonians. This Partridge has been very amusingly impersonated by Mr W. Gardiner, and the house has fairly roared itself hoarse in the garret scene, where he has been found at the washtub, this homely and familiar business of course telling splendidly with the lady patrons of the pit and gallery. Mrs Lane as Mistress Honor has given Mr Gardiner most useful and delightful support in the scene referred to, and in other passages of the play has scored successfully. The Tom Jones of Mr Algernon Syms has been manly and vigorous, and when Tom has “taken down a peg or two” the unscrupulous Blifil—capitally rendered by Mr W. Steadman—the spectators have cheered him to the echo. Mr. Steadman’s portraiture of the scoundrel is none the worse because built on the lines laid down by Mr Royce Carlton. As the irascible Squire Western—a part quite out of his line—Mr J. B. Howe has acted with much force, and a very respectable Mr Allworthy has been presented to the visitors by Mr J. Munro. Miss Oliph Webb’s Sophia, albeit a trifle hard, has commanded the good will of the audiences. Miss M. Griffith has given good treatment to the part of Lady Bellaston, and Miss M. Marshall has proved quite satisfactory as Molly Seagrim, whose soul hungers after golden bracelets and glittering “thingamies.”
     Sophia has been followed by Box and Cox, and the bill has been completed by the military sketch, Our Lads in Red, with Mr G. H. Macdermott in the principal part.



The Morning Post (3 June, 1892 - p.5)


     A special performance was given last night of Mr. Robert Buchanan’s “Sophia” by a number of Mr. Thomas Thorne’s friends as a mark of respect to that gentleman. It was quite an exceptional cast, some of the most popular performers of the day appearing in the play. Mr. Thomas Thorne himself played as the genial Partridge, a character in which he was very successful when the play was originally produced. He received an enthusiastic greeting from a large audience. Mr. Charles Warner, in his customary hearty style, played Tom Jones. Mr. Fred Thorne represented the boisterous Squire Western. Messrs. Blythe, Oswald Yorke, and Dodsworth also assisted in the masculine characters, and among the ladies were Miss Maude Millett, who played Sophia in her usual refined and graceful manner. The humour of Miss Sophie Larkin was an attractive feature, as was also that of Miss Kate Phillips, and the clever acting of Miss Helen Forsyth as Molly Seagrim was warmly appreciated. Mr. Thomas Thorne may be congratulated on this special performance, which greatly pleased the audience, and should he be disposed to revive the play for a time, most likely it would prove attractive, especially if it could be presented with such a cast as that of last night.



The Daily Telegraph (4 June, 1892 - p.3)


     “Sophia,” Mr. Robert Buchanan’s stage version of Fielding’s immortal “Tom Jones,” is so unflaggingly entertaining a play that it was not surprising to find a delighted audience assembled at the Vaudeville Theatre on Thursday evening. The adapter certainly did his work in a rarely felicitous manner when he set himself to transfer to “the boards” the pretty, persecuted Sophia Western, the gallant scapegrace Tom Jones, the faithful barber and phlebotomist Partridge, the arch hypocrite Blifil, and all the rest of the amusing crew. As we all know, “Sophia” held the stage on the occasion of its original production for over a year. That lengthy career, however, has not dimmed its attractive qualities, to judge by the demeanour of those who answered Mr. Thomas Thorne’s call on Thursday, and renewed their acquaintance with the piece. Beyond all question, if the Vaudeville manager has set his mind on another revival, he could hardly hit upon a play more likely to take the taste of theatregoers during the remainder of the season. Thursday evening’s performance does not fall within the scope of ordinary criticism, for the representation was admittedly given at short notice by a company of actors who had one and all come forward rather as a compliment to an old and respected comrade than as a matter of everyday theatrical business. In spite of rapid rehearsal, however, the play went like clockwork from first to last. Mr. Charles Warner dropped into his original place again, and acted Tom Jones with that ease and conviction which seem never to fail him. Miss Maude Millett, who won her spurs, so to speak, in the provinces by her portrait of the distracted heroine, was at hand to take up the part once more, and to play it in a natural, consistent, and charming manner. So it was with the remainder of the cast. Mr. Thorne himself found no difficulty in returning to his old character, the amiable partridge, and in making the most of it; while the Squire Western of Mr. Fred Thorne, the Allworthy of Mr. J. S. Blythe, the Blifil of Mr. Oswald Yorke, and the Square of Mr. Dodsworth all fitted into the picture equally well. Miss Sophie Larkin, Miss Kate Phillips, and Miss Helen Vane lent excellent assistance; and Miss Helen Forsyth played Blifil’s rustic victim, Molly Seagrim, in every whit as fascinating a manner as she did formerly. In a word, “Sophia,” capitally presented as it was, gratified one and all.



The Times (7 June, 1892 - p.8)


     In default of fresher attractions, Sophia has once more found its way into the Vaudeville programme. The revival comes, no doubt, a little earlier than would have been the case had fortune smiled upon Mr. Thomas Thorne’s recent experiments with new plays; but there can be no question as to the enduring qualities of this version of “Tom Jones,” in which Mr. Robert Buchanan is certainly seen at his best as an adapter. Sophia is one of the very few modern plays which can be seen again and again with pleasure, and in the present instance it is favoured with an exceptionally good cast. Mr. Charles Warner takes up the part of the brilliant scapegrace who yet with all faults, is so much more lovable than the immaculate heroes of modern melodrama. It is a part eminently suited to the actor’s robust and vigorous method, and although Mr. Warner could do with a little more verge and scope than is furnished by one of the smallest stages in London, he succeeds in winning a full measure of sympathy for his character. Miss Maude Millett brings her sympathetic manner to bear with excellent effect upon the engaging personality of Miss Sophia Western, while Mr. Fred Thorne and Miss Vane re-appear with undiminished success as the bluff Squire Western and the heartless woman of fashion, Lady Bellaston. Mr. Thomas Thorne is of course at home in his old part of Partridge.



The Era (1 December, 1894 - p.8)

On Monday, Nov. 26th, The Comedy, in Four Acts
by Robert Buchanan, entitled

Mr Allworthy   ..........................    Mr J. P. DRYDEN
Squire Western ........................     Mr HARRY ASHFORD
Blifil                 ..........................    Mr WALTER McEWEN
Tom Jones      ..........................     Mr FRED MAXWELL
Square             ..........................    Mr EDWARD BODDY
Parson Supple  ..........................    Mr E. A. BEAUMONT
Farmer Copse  ..........................    Mr T. SULLIVAN
Partridge          ..........................    Mr E. W. ROYCE
George Seagrim ........................    Mr H. BEAUFORT
A Gamekeeper .........................     Mr G. E EDWARDS
Fotheringham   .........................    Mr E. LESLIE
Sophia               ........................    Miss AMY McNEILL
Miss Tabitha Western ..............     Miss E. DOWTON
Mistress Honour .......................    Miss PHYLLIS FRAYNE
Lady Bellaston ..........................    Miss ALICE INGRAM
Molly Seagrim ..........................     Miss C. NATHALIE
Maid               ..........................    Miss G. HUBBARD

     There is a wide gap between the sensation and excitement of Human Nature and the subtle intriguing and fashionable corruption of Sophia. But the gap has been easily bridged by the Lyric company, who have this week given all-round performances of Mr Robert Buchanan’s successful dramatisation of Fielding’s immortal “Tom Jones.” Tuesday night’s representation being for the benefit of a local philanthropic institution, the house was packed in every part, even standing-room being at a premium; and the large audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy the working out of the interesting story. Tom Jones has an excellent representative in Mr Fred Maxwell, though his rendering is marred in places by over-accentuation. How the virtuous Hammersmithians roar with delight when Tom administers a richly-deserved thrashing to the hypocritical Blifil! That arch-humbug’s character is cleverly limned by Mr Walter McEwen, the dual-sided nature of the scamp being neatly indicated. Mr J. P. Dryden gives a sound rendition of the rôle of Mr Allworthy, Tom’s kind-hearted but deluded patron; and a good portrait of the rough-and-ready, wine-bibbing Squire Western is presented by Mr H. Ashford. Mr E. W. Royce makes a droll Partridge, with his everlasting Latin quotations, and the faithful village barber has been at one taken to the hearts of the Lyric patrons. Mr Edward Boddy invests the part of Square with the necessary oiliness of manner, and the character of poaching George Seagrim is powerfully treated by Mr H. Beaufort. A sweetly pathetic Sophia is Miss Amy McNeill, who has the house with her in her defence of Tom and defiance of Blifil. Miss E. Dowton makes a droll figure of that “giddy young thing” Miss Tabitha Western, and Mistress Honour has a pert and vivacious representative in Miss Phyllis Frayne. Miss Alice Ingram looks so well as Lady Bellaston, the woman of fashion, that one finds it difficult to account for Tom Jones’s invulnerability. Miss C. Nathalie impersonates the hoydenish Molly Seagrim with ability, and other parts are well looked after by Messrs E. A. Beamont, T. Sullivan, G. E. Edwards, E. Leslie, and Miss G. Hubbard. The comedy, which is carefully mounted, is preceded by the old farce The Area Belle, cast as follows: Pitcher, Mr H. Ashford; Tosser, Mr J. M. East; Walker Chalks, Mr E. Boddy; Mrs Croaker, Miss E. Dowton; Penelope, Miss Phyllis Frayne.



The Sketch (17 April, 1901 - p.35)


     The death of Miss Helen Forsyth at an early age will be regretted by those playgoers who remember the bright and beautiful young lady playing in comedy and drama up to a few years ago. Those, however, who know how deeply Miss Forsyth had suffered during the past few years from a lingering illness cannot but regard her death as a merciful release. Miss Forsyth was never what might be called a “leading” actress, but in certain ingénue and light-comedy characters she was artistic as well as charming. Her two best-known impersonations were the second heroine in Pettitt and Grundy’s strong Adelphi drama, “The Bells of Haslemere,” and Molly Seagrim, the fascinating young Gipsy in Mr. Robert Buchanan’s brilliant adaptation of “Tom Jones,” namely, “Sophia.” As Molly, poor Miss Forsyth showed a hitherto unexpected ability in what is professionally known as “character-acting.”


The Manchester Courier (9 June, 1908 - p.6)



(A Comedy in Four Acts by Robert Buchanan.)

Mr Allworthy   ..........................    Mr. Charles Boult
Squire Western ........................     Mr. Fred A. Marston
Blifil                 ..........................    Mr. Edgar Stevenson
Tom Jones      ..........................     Mr. Ernest E. Norris
Square             ..........................    Mr. Fred Castleman
Farmer Copse  ..........................    Mr. George Fisher
Partridge          ..........................    Mr. Edward S. Petley
George Seagrim ........................    Mr. Harold Wagner
Fotheringay      .........................    Mr. Edward Snow
A Gamekeeper .........................     Mr. Arthur Wilson
Sophia Western ........................    Miss Edith Coleman
Miss Tabitha Western ..............     Miss Bessie Harrison
Mistress Honour .......................    Miss Lena Delphine
Lady Bellaston ..........................    Miss Maude Ferguson
Molly Seagrim ..........................     Miss May de Verne

     “Sophia,” Mr. Robert Buchanan’s adaptation of Henry Fielding’s novel, “Tom Jones,” is a play in four acts, in which the dramatist has allowed himself considerable latitude with the author’s work. The result, however, is not unpleasing from a dramatic point of view, and the piece was favourably received at the Theatre Royal last night. Mr. John Hart’s repertoire company give very capable interpretation to the striking scenes of which the play is composed. Mr. Ernest E. Norris appears with success as Tom Jones, and Miss Edith Coleman gives a pleasing study of the part of Sophia Western. Mr. Charles Boult is well suited with the character of Mr. Allworthy, and Mr. Fred A. Marston is a breezy, boisterous Squire Western. Mr. Edgar Stevenson as Blifil and Miss Lena Delphine as Mistress Honour are both good.



The Boston Globe (20 January, 1920 - p.4)


Famous Old Drama Given Excellent
Revival by the Henry Jewett Players

     COPLEY THEATRE—“Tom Jones,” romantic comedy in four acts by Robert Buchanan, based on the novel by Henry Fielding. The cast:

Mistress Honour .......................    Ada Wingard
Blifil                 ..........................    Leonard Craske
Sophie Western ........................    Julia Chippendale
Tom Jones      ..........................   Percy Carne Waram
Mr. Allworthy  ..........................    Cameron Matthews
Squire Western   ........................  E. E. Clive
Farmer Copse ..........................   Fred C. Barron
Square             ..........................   Nicholas Joy
Miss Tabitha Western ...............    Viola Roach
George Seagrim ........................   William C. Mason
Gamekeeper     ..........................    Sharland Bradbury
Molly Seagrim  ..........................   May Ediss
Partridge          ..........................   H. Conway Wingfield
Parson Supple  ..........................   K. N. Ross
Lady Bellaston   ..........................    Jessamine Newcombe
Fotheringay      ..........................   Arthur Irving
Maid                 ..........................    Florence Wainwright

     The Jewett Players gave their first performance of “Tom Jones” last night to a large and interested audience, which showed its pleasure by frequent and hearty applause.
     More than 30 years ago this romantic comedy drawn by Robert Buchanan from Fielding’s novel had an unusual success in London and elsewhere, and It still has power to hold an audience.
     Needless to say the plot is very much condensed and somewhat altered in minor details from that of the novel. A thoroughly Victorian turn is given to the relation between Jones and Lady Bellaston, and there is nothing but the fact that as children they were playmates to link Jones with Molly Seagrim.
     Most or the emphasis is put on the love affair between Jones and Sophia. The realism is all either much softened or left out and the result is a pleasantly sentimental play with plenty of comic relief and suspense, and a very happy ending. The dialogue as far as possible is taken over direct from Fielding, however.
     The play is better contrived than many of those based on novels. The soliloquys sound quaint to ears accustomed to a different technique in play writing. The few asides amuse rather than annoy and the old-fashioned air of the whole performance adds to its charm.
     Julia Chippendale, a newcomer at the Copley, makes a winsome Sophia, who can be arch without being unladylike. Ada Wingard, another new member of Mr Jewett’s company, makes an excellent foil to her as Honour, her maid. Percy Waram is a manly Tom Jones, and Leonard Craske an artfully villainous Blifil.
     Mr Wingfield does some excellent character acting as Partridge. His dinging of the familiar folk song, “Barbara Allen” in the third act, surprised and delighted the audience. The other parts were all capably filled. An eloquent appeal for the Y-D memorial drive, made between the acts apparently netted a goodly sum from the audience.


[Kate Rorke as Sophia.]



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