29 MARCH 1845, Page 10


Tins has been a busy week in the theatrical world: a dozen houses in dif- ferent parts of the town and suburbs opened their doors on Easter Monday; each providing novelty of some kind for the especial delectation of the holyday playgoers. Only a small minority of them, however, provided the usual Easter spectacle. But though Romance no longer opens the fairy realm& of Enchantment on the stage, the scenic wonders wrought by Ex- travaganza, who reigns in her stead, are not lees picturesque, and quite as amusing.

The Lyceum claims precedence on this occasion; for, though an old friend, it wears a new face. Not that the management is changed: so far from it, Mrs. Keeley has taken a lease of the house as well as of popu- larity; and during the short recess it has been swept and garnished. She has 'commenced a fresh season with renovated decorations; and a spirit that, having never flagged, needs no renewing. The interior now presents a lively and elegant appearance; and in the dress-circle of boxes no "thin partitions do the bounds divide" between the balcony and the other seats: only the latter have no backs. The practice of backing their friends, both in pit or boxes, has been found so efficacious by managers who have tried it, that it is worthy of general adoption. Ventilation, too, especially in a summer theatre, is very conducive to the good humour of an audience; and a few air-holes opened at the back of the verandah-covered boxes of the Lyceum would be a welcome relief, afforded at little cost and trouble.

The whole of the performances on the opening night were new—at least to this stage; but all were not equally enjoyable. The Recruiting Officer, though he had contrived to enlist Keeley and Meadows as his recruits, was unworthy to belong to Farquhar's sprightly corps, and not in full feather: his Plume showed neither airy nor elegant, and the Brazen part of him proved to be anything but Corinthian brass, and was destitute of polish. Sergeant Kite, too, did not smell half strong enough of powder and pipe- clay; Sylvia and Melinda had sent their abigails instead of appearing them- selves, as if scorning such mechanical suitors; and the pretty Rose was nipped in the bud by Mrs. Keeley's indisposition. The Lowther Arcade proved as dull as that covered thoroughfare, and as tiresome to get through. But Whittington and his Cat chased away all dulness and dissatisfaction: -Mrs. Keeley's entrance as the boy Dick, in a natty suit of drab with a bundle at her back and a smile playing on her pale face like a sunbeam, was the signal for a hearty burst of applause, that was repeated with a running accompaniment of laughter almost incessantly for the rest of the evening. Albert Smith, who has thus brought Dick Whittington to life again, has thrown the boy into strange company : he passes his first night in London with Chaucer and the Canterbury Pilgrims; and, after being basted out of Fitzwarren's kitchen by the fat cook, is mesmerized by the cat on Highgate Hill, and secs visions of his future greatness in a state of

• clairvoyance. Dick and his faithful cat are wrecked on the coast of Moga- dore; where Prince De Joinville in the person of Wigan figures as a fire- eater; Keeley as Maley Moloch acts the lion-tamer; and Mr. Collier as the cat eclipses that renowned ratcatcher the hero of a hundred rats. It is hard to say which of the trio is most amusing; but with such coadjutors, and the aids of chaaacteristic scenery and costumes, pans and parodies, fairies that dance and mortals who sing, little Dick Whittington promises to run as prosperous a career in the Strand as he did in the City—though he'll never become a Knight-Mayor on the stage of the Lyceum. At the Adelphi, St. George and the Dragon have been served up in a new and comical fashion, with a sauce-piquante of jest and satire by those ex-

pert ticklers of the public palate Gilbert a'Beckett and Mark satire, The Dragon is represented by Mr. Paul Bedford, in a scaly snit of shagreen, with a sulphur waistcoat, and a tail supported by a Tom Thumb of titiger in top-boots. The monster is an all-devouring biped of the shark species, compounded of hill-discounter and loan-monger, quack-doctor and wine- merchant, betting-man and thiroblerigger. From his villa on the banks of the Nile he stalks into Memphis, bearding King Ptolemy in his court; where he appears like the ghost of Ninus to Queen Semiramis, but with a more substantial presence. St. George cuts a very shabby figure, though be appears in the pretty person of Miss Woolgar, and is armed cap-a-pie with sword and shield; for he foils the dragon of roguery by resorting to the last new trick of legislatorial fencing, the parry ex post facto to the thrust in qui tam. The Emperor of Morocco, whom St. George cuts out with the daughter of Ptolemy, is- made an irresistible suitor by Wright; who sings like Braham assumes the air of Forrest, and looks as none but himself can look. The Egyptian architecture and costumes are so pic- turesquely caricatured that the pageantry has a characteristic splendour, with some points of burlesque that might amuse Sir Gairdner Wilkinson himself. Selby as Ptolemy would be recognized at once by the resem- blance to his colossal portrait in the "Tombs of the Kings."

But the Golden Fleece hung out at the Haymarket is the most elegant and not the least diverting of the Easter extravaganzas. It is a burlesque of the stage-business of Antigone and the story of the Argonauts, with the catastrophe of Medea; and it is one of the neatest and happiest of Planches grotesque versions of classic fables. The stage presents the facade of a structure intended to be Grecian, though flanked by a couple of Roman arches for exits and entrances; a scenic ineongruity in accord- ance with a Greek inscription on the building, that needs no scholar's in- terpretation of its obvious meaning—" All my eye and Betty Martin." On the raised terrace in front, the characters vent their sorrows in jocose couplets of epigrammatic smartness with Hudibrastio rhymes; exchanging confidences with the chorus; whose multipersonal existence is concentered in the individuality of Mr. Glarles Mathews. The two duped monarchs, lEetes of Colchis and Creon of Corinth, are both embodied in the form of that Janus of comical crowned beads Mr. J. Bland. Jason, the Join- ville of the Argonauts, who fleeces King /Fetes and proves false to Medea, is personated in gallant style by Miss P. Horton : and a more dashing gay deceiver never wore Greek costume. Madame Vestris is the Medea, deploring the faithlessness of Jason to the tune of "The Fine Old English Gentleman," and revenging her wrongs by whipping her children instead of slaying them: drawing from its golden sheath a birch rod in lieu of a dagger, she rushes off with her victims; whose cries proclaim the consummation of her stern decree. The effect is irresistibly ludicrous. The amatory and recriminatory duets and soliloquizing sentimen- tal solos are charmingly sung by Madame Vestris and Miss P. Horton, with just enough of drollery to keep up the fun without marring the music : and Mr. C. Mathews sings "patter songs" explanatory of the proceedings, with a blundering volubility and complacency worthy of a "sworn interpreter." Beautiful tableaux of the sailing of the good ship Argo with the Golden Fleece, and the departure of Medea in her dragon cmricle, terminate the two acts of this comical tragedy. Timmer the Cream of all the Tartars is the title of a burlesque of the once popular spectacle, at the Princess's, Oxberry is the hero; and among its attractions are a scene or two by Beverley. Travesties of stage-trash are rarely amusing unless the piece parodied is fresh in the recollection of people; and in this instance the cream of the jest seems to be the title.

At Drury Lane, by way of Easter offering, Robert Macaire has been struck dumb, and the adventures of the gaol-birds .Robert and Bertrand, with some new ones invented for the occasion, are performed in pantomime. The failure was inevitable: a swindler without a tongue is a dancer without legs. W. H. Payne as Macaire was clever and comical; but, master of grotesque pantomime though he is, his action has become so ex- cessive by the habit of playing in a mask, that he cannot prevent it from appearing exaggerated when he acts without, and he relies on gesture mere than facial expression. Two new dancers, Mademoiselle pall= and M. Ges- perini, of the Gymnastic School, showed great strength and agility; but one of their feats, in which the lady, resting one foot on her partner's arm, with the other raised high in air, is whirled round and round, excited as- tonishment not unmixed with disgust. The medley of entertainments that followed were better suited to a booth at the fair than the stage of a great theatre.

The houses across the water each provided a new heroine to awaken the sympathies of their visitors. Astley's put forward the Maid of Saragossa: but the heroic act of the Spanish damsel proved less exciting than the Dri- minal career of Margaret Catchpok the Female Horse-stealer, which is dra matized both at the Surrey and Victoria; Mrs. R. Homier at one house, and Miss Vincent at the other, personating the fair felon.