27 NOVEMBER 1841, Page 10


THE Haymarket has this week made another successful hit with a new farce, called Love Extempore; and Covent Garden has had another nar- row escape from failure in the revival of Free and Easy, a musical after- piece, that had a great run at the English Opera, where Wastscs and Miss KELLY played the parts now filled by CHARLES MATHF.WS and Mrs. °BOER. Yet if the two performances had changed hoqses, the success of each would have been just the opposite—merely on account of the size of the respective theatres. At the Haymarket, people are diverted with absurdities that they look grave on at Covent Garden : the grandeur of the place puts them upon considering the proprieties ; they are not predisposed to laugh without caring why, but they get into a critical condition that insists on having sufficient reason for being amused, and are more prone to cold approbation than hearty enjoyment. When the mirthful infection spreads in a great theatre, the roar is pro- digious; the whole house is in convulsions of laughter : but it requires a powerful lever to move such a huge mass of inert decorum, and set the sedate brains of seven-shilling scat-occupiers in a whirl. Mut-mss, LISTON, and REEVE, could throw the most respectable audiences into fits by twitching certain muscles of their faces ; and KEELEY at the pre- sent time, with an author to back him, can do much to shake the sides of both boxes and pit. HARLEY keeps up the ball of fun capitally 'when once it is in motion, but he has not the force to give it the first impetus : his drollery is whimsical, and makes the face laugh ; Fan- BEN'S is witty and satirical, and makes the mind laugh : it is only humour that raises the hearty laugh, "making the lungs to crow like Chanticleer," that levels all barriers of decorum, and sets the whole multitude tumbling about in the full tide of merriment. There must be humour in the piece or in the performer, but humour is essential : when it is combined in the two, the explosions of laughter are re- doubled. Humour is the one thing needful in farce, and it is the one thing wanting in both the performances of this week. The victim of Love Extempore, Mr. Titus Livingstone, is a bachelor of mature age, who has not yet outgrown his schoolboy classicalities, and whose nature is of that soft and plastic composition that takes any impress given to it. Titus falls in among a matchmaking family just at the precise moment when a husband is wanted for a blue-stocking daugh- ter, and is tumbled head over ears in love and fairly hooked before he knows where he is. This part the author, Mr. KENNY, intended for LISTON, we believe ; but he has been fain to put up with Mr. REES; whose face and gait, his most comical attributes, are so provocative of laughter that the limitation of his resources to the grotesque escapes ob- servation. Miss P. Hoirrox, as the blue-belle, is too engaging a person to be the object of ridicule ; but perhaps the author did not intend this, though he satirizes the array of modern accomplishments in which young ladies are paraded now-a-days. Mrs. STIRLING plays a clever matchmaking woman in a very sprightly and natural way ; and alto- gether the farce is amusing, though deficient in humour both as regards character and situation.

The hero of Free and Easy is Sir John Freeman, a dashing young fellow with a plentiful stock of impudence, who quarters himself, his servants, horses, and dogs, on a quiet middle-aged gentleman, retired to the country with a pretty young wife to realize the beauties of Thom- son's Seasons and Zimmerman on Solitude. CHARLES 3IATEtzws plays the part in his easy off-hand manner, but he wants the via comica requi- site to bring out the drollery in full force ; and BARTLEY looks too much a mats of the world to be playing Peter Pastoral from the text of THOM- SON. HARLEY'S style of thumbing and quoting the Seasons, and Mrs. OMER'S manner of enjoying the confusion of her master, are very di- verting, and help the fun considerably ; but it only amounts to a practical joke without a purpose. The garden-scene, where the poplars are torn up, the summer-house pulled down, and a vista of orange-trees brought out, by a score of labourers with Si,- John Freeman at their head, is capital. The Wrong Man, which is played after Miss KEMBLE'S performance of Norma, is a bustling farce of intrigue, ingeniously put together by Mr. MORTON, that gives occupation for Mrs. HUBBY in addition to the actors before-mentioned, and affords relaxation to the audience after the excitement of the opera.