1 JANUARY 1842, Page 14


THE opening of Drury Lane, on Monday, was an inspiriting sight to the playgoer : the friends of the Drama seemed to have rallied round Old Drury to hail the return of SHAKSPERE'S plays to its stage, and to welcome Mr. MACREADY, the manager who has restored the theatre to its proper uses. Long before the doors were opened, every entrance was besieged with eager crowds ; and the multitudes that poured in soon filled every corner, hundreds being unable to gain admission.

• The interior of the house has undergone little change in the de- corations; but it presents a clean and cheerful aspect, and the excel- lent arrangements for the comfort of the audience are apparent on en- tering. The seats in the pit as well as the boxes are numbered, those in the pit being divided into stalls ; and the occupant being provided with a corresponding number, may remove and return to his place again with out difficulty at any time during the evening. The box-keepers have badges on their arms, numbered, for identification in case of complaint of improper conduct on the part of any one ; and printed regulations are put up in the lobbies. The saloon is converted into a promenade, which the most fastidious visiter may enter; the advantage of hav- ing a spacious and airy apartment to resort to between the perform- ances, without fear of annoyance, is very agreeable : refreshments are provided as usual, but at moderate fixed prices ; and the fees for taking charge of cloaks and bonnets are likewise regulated by the manage- ment. The overwhelming rush into the pit on the first night caused some complaints of want of standing-room, arising from a miscalcula- tion of the extent of this species of accommodation ; but those who chose to go out had their admission-money returned : though the pit was crammed on succeeding nights, no inconvenience has since been experienced. The gallery occupants are "chartered libertines," and they most liberally exercised their privileges on " boxing-night,"—a term to which they seem to have assigned a pugilistic meaning.

The ceiling is newly decorated with coloured arabesques, enclosing small medallions of the great dramatists, with the initials of their names in cipher ; and on the front of the dress-circle bold scroll ornaments are substituted for the pictures. The most conspicuous ornament is the superb crimson velvet curtain, opening in the centre, trimmed wi:h gold lace and a border of golden wreaths, the Royal arms in gold relief sur- mounting the valiance : the velvet draperies of the stage-boxes contri- bute also to the gorgeous appearance of the proscenium, the frame of which is a bright blue ground with gold scroll-work in relief, springing from a gilded base ; the blue relieves the great mass of crimson, and harmonizes with the light tints of the same colour in other parts of the house. The costly show-curtain of velvet, however, might have been -dispensed with ; for the old-fashioned plain green curtain, which it covers, not supersedes, is not only as serviceable but more pleasing to the eye.

"God save the Queen" was sung by the whole vocal corps; the prin- cipals of which were Messrs. H. PHILLIPS, GruneLsr,and ALLEN, Miss ROMER, Miss Gorrtn, and Miss Poor.E; and the array of performers showed several new faces.

On the green curtain rising for the play, the Merchant of Venice, to begin, there were loud outcries for MACREADY : he not appearing, the clamour continued, the actors performing in dumb show through the first scene. At last Mr. MACREADY, dressed for the part of Shy/ock, came forward before the proper time for his entrance : the first glimpse of him was like a spark to a mine—the pent-up enthusiasm burst forth in a succession of explosions, accompanied by waving of hats and handkerchiefs, which continued until the shouters were fairly tired out, when three cheers were given by way of sedative. Mr. MACREADY has well merited this cordial greeting, and support of a more lasting and effective kind also. All that could be expected to be done by him towards getting together an efficient company he appears to have accomplished ; not only securing performers of known talent, but bringing forward some new ones, and giving to others of promise anew opportunity of trying their powers. The selection of plays for the three first nights is an earnest of excellence and variety in future entertainments ; and the same experienced judgment that dictated the revival of The Two Gentlemen of 'Verona will doubtless be exercised in the production of new pieces. The frequent disturbances incidental to the occasion almost reduced the performance of The Merchant of Venice to a spectacle ; and a most beautiful one it was : every scene seemed an amplification of CANA- LErro's pictures of Venice, with the clear sharpness of form and bright local tints that characterize his buildings ; the dramatis personae peopling them with animated portraits by TITIAN, so picturesque and appropriate are the costumes. The trial-scene, with the Doge and Senate assembled, has the stateliness and impressiveness of a solemn court of justice. We did not recognize the manner of Messrs. MAR- SHALL and TOMKINS, the scene-painters, so completely have they sub- dued their styles to the fine quality of the master whose works they have studied. Of MACREADY'S Shylock it needs only be said that he throws into his personation more of vindictive fierceness than when he first played the character at the Haymarket; but it still wants the concentrated bitterness of feeling and settled malignity of purpose that give a fiendish aspect to the Jew's revenge : in a word, Mseasenv makes Shylock an object rather of sympathy than dread. The performance was generally satisfactory : we need only particu- larize Mr. IltiRsoN, the new light comedian, as Gratiano : his vivacity is somewhat hard and forced, but his levity is never offensive. The introduction of vocal music in those parts where a soft strain of instru- mental harmony is set down in the text is not an improvement. The pantomime, Harlequin and Duke Humphrey s Dinner, or Jack Cade the Lord of London Stone, is a gorgeous and grotesque spectacle,

with extraordinary changes, and beautiful scenery. The enormous plum-pudding that well nigh filled the stage in the opening-scene, with Goodcheer enthroned on its vast orb, gives promise of the nature of the good things with which the eye is feasted in the " grand gourmandio procession": the transition from Starvation Hall to the palace of Duke Humphrey, and the sudden disappearance of the steaming viands, leaving only skeletons of the gigantic masses of fish, flesh, and fowl, were heartily relished. Jack Cade and his rabble rout are compara- tively insignificant personages ; and but for the characteristic scenes of Old London, in which they figured, they might have been dispensed with altogether for any fun they elicited : the double of Monsieur Jullien and his band of impersonated bass-fiddles, summoned by Good- cheer to honour the feast, are much more mirth-moving. Tee harle- quinade contains two or three capital transformations, the machinist's skill being more conspicuous than the humour of the motley troop : a shop, announced to open with an "immense stock," discloses through its vast panes a prodigious stock for the neck, a beadle's staff linked to a dandy's cane serving for a " union pin"; at the touch of harlequin's wand a row of infant heads appears above, and below the inscription " Prince Albert's stock." The deserted inn-stables, haunted by the skeletons of horses, and the ghost of the ostler who hung himself "'cause of the railroads," with the simultaneous apparition of the ghost at every window and door of the building, is the most extensive and effective of the pantomimic tricks. The last scene is the launch of the Trafalgar, so admirably managed that it conveys a lively idea of the reality. The Columbine is an agile dancer ; and the second Clown, or Imp, performs some astonishing feats of strength ; but fun has departed from the Clown.

Mrs. INCHDALD'S comedy, Every One has his Fault, was played on Tuesday; • and kept the audience in a state of continual excitement,

alternately mirthful and mournful; the simplicity and directness of the

action, and the natural feeling in the characters, give assurance that the germ of truth is contained in the picture of life, however artificially de- veloped. Mr. Harmony, the peace-maker, who heals dissensions between man and wife, father and daughter, by flattering the self-love of each, is played by MACREADY in a quiet, dry manner, that gives to the bene-

volent humorist great weight ; though one wonders how such a grave and excellent person should be so glib-tongued a fibber, even with a good motive: the indications of lurking enjoyment in his expression, joined with his frank earnest manner, supply the necessary ingredient

of mirth—you smile with Harmony, instead of laughing at him. Mr. Helms, as the fickle and inconstant Sir Robert Ramble, was more easy

than on the first night ; and proved himself a smart and lively repre-

sentative of the thoughtless gallant, as regards externals at least. Miss Elam, as Miss Wooburn, the divorced wife of Sir Robert Ramble,

evinced discretion and feeling; and the ladylike deportment, tall yet

graceful person, and pleasing voice of' the debutante, produced a fa- vourable impression. ANDERSON, as Captain Irwin, who in the extre-

mity of his distress robs his hard- hearted father-in-law, Lord Norland,

and Mrs. WARNER as his wife, on whom her father's doors bad been shut, gave powerful effect to the pathos : the transport of delight, dashed

with the grief of an agonized heart, with which the mother clasped her

new-found boy to her bosom, moved the feelings of the whole house. The child-like ingenuousness and earnestness of Miss VINING, as the

boy, contributed not a little to the touching effect of this scene : she is a graceful and intelligent little actress, and shows more than the parrot- like cleverness of taught children, for she speaks and acts with a feeling

of what she is about. Mr. and Mrs. KEELEY, as Mr. and Mrs. Placid,

are an inimitable pair : the husband patient and obedient, and breaking out into rebellion only to be enslaved the more ; and the wife firm

in her vixen rule to the last—the way in which Mrs. KEELEY, on hear-

ing that her husband has been wounded in a duel, declares "If he is seriously hurt I shall be sorry for the poor little man, but if he is not

I'll lead him such a life," speaks volumes. Mr. PHELPS, as Lord Nor- land, the stern and cruel father; Mr. Cosnrroit, as So/us, the timid old bachelor, trembling on the brink of matrimony and afraid to take the plunge ; and Mrs. C. JONES, as Miss Spinster, into whose buxom arms the delighted Soles is precipitated, complete the cast of this really in- teresting comedy. There is nothing remarkable in the costumes, but the admixture of the fashions of the past and present day : the scenery is in good taste, and the club-room is well set out and brilliantly lighted. The production of SHAKSPERE'S comedy, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, is really a revival, andone of an acceptable kind ; for, notwith- The production of SHAKSPERE'S comedy, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, is really a revival, andone of an acceptable kind ; for, notwith-

standing its deficiency of dramatic interest, and the numerous conceits that overlay both the serious and comic passages, there is much beau- tiful poetry and humorous pleasantry in this romance of love. MAC-

READY and and ANDERSON are the "two gentlemen "; and the manly cordiality of the friends mellows their rugged and boisterous ardour as lover's ANDERSON'S passion wears too robust an aspect for the false and inconstant Proteus; and MACREADY seems too stern a character for the placable Valentine, who would yield his mistress to his trea- cherous rival. Miss FORTESCUE, as the wronged and devoted Julia, kept alive the sympathy of the audience from first to last. In the earlier scenes, the wayward coyness of Julia, and her affectation of

aversion to receiving the letter of Proteus from her maid, were marked too violently ; the simulated anger appeared too real : but the rapture when left to herself, and the burst of grief at parting from her lover,

were both heartfelt. In the subsequent scenes, where disguised as a

page she follows Proteus, and is witness to his falsehood, her mute ex- pression of anguish is quite touching ; and when her tortured heart finds relief in words, its sorrows gush forth in accents of genuine pathos

that there is no resisting. Miss FORTESCUE promises to become a charming representative of SHAKSPERE'S women ; and we hope to see her establish a reputation in Juliet : the only obstacle to the highest success

is the limited power of her voice, and her delicately-marked features ; but we have had so many physical-force Juliets as well as Romeos,

that a really loving girl, who is absorbed in the character, forgetful of self, will be welcomed even though her whisperings should not startle the upper gallery. How much of the finest kind of acting is lost to the stage through these huge theatres I Miss &Lis, as Silvia, only claims recognition for the dignified propriety of her deportment as the Duke's daughter. KEELEY'S Launce is just the odd mixture of simplicity and shrewdness, tenderness, and waggery, that SHAKSPERE may be sup- posed to have intended. Mr. H. Ham., as Speed, is a burly knave, and quibbles as though he were playing at quarter-staff instead of ban- dying Jests: ComproN would have been more quaint and comical, but his dogged imbecility in Sir Thurio would have been missed ; and HALL is a greater contrast to KEELEY.

Views of Verona and Milan, painted with an eye to the pictorial re- quirements of the stage-effect, form beautiful backgrounds to the pic- turesque groups attired in the Italian costumes of the fifteenth century : the sumptuous fashion of these antique fopperies, seen in conjunction with the venerable architecture, assists in realizing the fanciful crea- tions of the poet. It is with reference to this right use of scenic illu- sion that the stage-appointments are chosen, and thus while pleasing the eye they influence the mind : and, that none of the effect of old associations may be lost to those not familiar with the places, a pro- gramme of the scenery is placed on every seat. The grouping and ac- tion of the band of outlaws in the wood exemplify the advantages of good stage-drilling. The scene-shifters, by the way, seem to want ex- pertness, from the frequent gaps between the " wings" and the " flats ": where all else is so complete, such mechanical defects should not be suffered.