THE THEATRES. SAVOY. The Entr'acte and Limelight : a Theatrical and Musical Critic and Advertiser 1884 October 18 799: 12 [unsigned review]
The last opera given to the world by Messrs. Gilbert
and Sullivan did not follow the example of its forerunners, and make a
fortune for all those who are pecuniarily interested in it; "Princess Ida"
was attractive at the commencement of her career, but the public soon became
indifferent to her; and when Mr. Carte found that "booking" got slack,
that receipts at the doors were not what they should be, and that there
was no necessity for practising the queue system – his specific
for getting crowds past the pay-box into the theatres – he determined to
withdraw "Princess Ida," and temporarily close the theatre. On Saturday
night last, the Savoy made a change in its bill; but the event was not
emphasized by the production of a novelty; the chief feature of the programme
being formed of the revived "Sorcerer" – the first of the Gilbert and Sullivan
series – supplemented by "Trial by Jury." "The Sorcerer" is, perhaps, not
the weakest of the works which Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan have given
us; but if it should not prove attractive, it may possibly be attributed
to the fact that it scarcely satirises any one existing institution sufficiently
to please audiences that delight in personalities. The "Pinafore" had its
little dig at the "ruler of the Queen's Navee;" "Patience" ridiculed the
aesthetic craze most ably, while the House of Lords was supremely chaffed
in "Iolanthe;" but "The Sorcerer" is more of a comic opera proper, and
is independent of the topical element, a circumstance which may be all
in its favour as a work of art, but which, in our humble opinion, makes
it less likely to prosper. The performance of this work on Saturday was,
in most respects, excellent. Mr. Grossmith, as John Wellington Wells, the
dealer in love-potions, penny curses and blessings, made the most of Mr.
Gilbert's lines – the funniest in the piece – and performed his work of
incantation with admirable effect. Mr. Barrington was the vicar to the
life, and every phrase he had to deliver was spoken in faultless fashion.
It was as a vocalist that this gentleman held out signs of weakness. The
same remark will apply to Miss Leonora Braham, whose intonation was at
times very untrue. Miss Jessie Bond sang very well; Miss Dorée proved
herself a fairly good successor to the late Miss Everard, and Miss Brandram
as Lady Sangazure, took highest honours among the ladies. Mr. Richard Temple,
as Sir Marmaduke, was admirably made up, and sang and acted capitally;
as also did Mr. Durward Lely, who, as Alexis, is a great improvement on
the original representative of this part. Mr. Lely sings effectively, while
his acting is much above that of the average operatic tenor.
"Trial by Jury" came too late to excite anything like a lively interest. It was fairly performed. Mr. Barrington, as the judge, was excellent; Miss Dysart, as the plaintiff, performed her task pleasantly enough; and Mr. Lely, as the defendant, introduced a whole lot of rollicking business which we should imagine could scarcely have been countenanced by the author. Gilbert was out-Gilberted on Saturday night in "Trial by Jury." Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan were summoned to the footlights at the finish of "The Sorcerer," and received an ovation.
The performance on Saturday commenced too late, it being past half-past-eight before the curtain rose on the first scene of "The Sorcerer."
transcribed by Helga J. Perry, 17 November 2001