7 JANUARY 1832, Page 19


THE most excessive laughter we ever endured for a continuance, was at the representation of a "deep tragedy" at a country theatre; and the dullest evening we ever passed, was that on which we visited the Surry ahd Coburg Theatres to see the Pantomimes. The Surry Pantomime, we should observe, is nearly concluded in time to allow any one who wishes to "kill two birds with one stone," to see that at the Coburg. We could not help thinking of the saying of that most sensible and jolly of schoolmasters to his pupils, "Boys, let us be grave; I see a fool coming ;" for sure enough the preliminary grimace of the Clown, like the contor- tions of a rustic visage in a horse-collar, made us feel upon what a forlorn hope we had ventured. All the Clowns are mere grimacers, posture-masters, and gymnasts. We remember the unctuous fun with which GRIMALDI of old swallowed up in his capacious mouth (a match for the ear of Dionysius), and, his volu- minous breeches, the contents of all the baskets of all the market- people who crossed his path. Now the goods are only stowed away in a sack. The mouth no longer entombs the whole contents of a pastry-cook's shop, orlabyrinthine chains of sausages. GRIMALDI the Younger is a capital leaper, and that is all. Though deficient in gusto, he is not, however, restrained by any fastidious delicacy. We do not desiderate a genteel clown; yet we cannot but abhor a vulgar one. The very excesses of modern clowns are dull and literal. It is like seeing a country cormorant bolt fat bacon for a wager. It is gross entertainment. You see they have no prefer- ences. They devour without a relish. Their runnings through the body with swords and red-hot pokers—their thwacks and tumbles—are gratuitous, and yet performed all in the way of busi- ness. You see that they don't mind them, and cease to wonder that they don't hurt themselves.

At the Adelphi, not only the two Clowns, but Harlequin and Pantaloon delight in dislocations ; and in showing what an excel- lent hand-barrow can be made of a mortal, and how like a hoop four men can trundle off the stage. The main strength of the Adelphi pantomime lies in the spine and sinews of the Clowns. There is perpetual bustle and noise; "keep moving" is the word; tricks and changes succeed one another with the rapidity of vehicles on the road to a race ; slaps and bangs are as numerous es crackers on the fifth of November. But all will not do: Har- lequin twists and twirls in vain; Columbine displays her ankles and agility to heavy eyes. The spirit of fun is wanting. You wake at the crack of the wand, and see, as at the Surry, Smith- field turned into a butcher's shop, but wink at the stealing of a leg of mutton, and nod (not with approbation) at the success of the theft. The audiences above, however, echoed every thump with a roar of laughter, till we began to feel ashamed of our rigidity of muscle. This it is to be critical.

The Introductions are the best part in all. They are generally nursery dramas, and are got up with great fidelity to the outrage- ous impossibility of the story and incidents. The masks, dresses, and action of the characters, are most appropriately superlative. The Covent Garden Ogre we particularly admired; and we take shame to ourselves for not having done individual justice to Mr. W. H. PAYNE, who fills the part; for we have heard that he is quite a genius in pantomime, and that during the performance of his hideous and arduous character, he fainted with fatigue twice on one night—once, doubtless, from disappointment at missing his meal ; and again with chagrin at having killed his offspring. Or are the seven-leagued boots so wearisome on a journey ?

At the Adelphi, "The Old Woman that lived in a Shoe" and "Little Bo-peep" form the groundwork of the pantomime. The shoe is a most commodious cottage, having a door in its high heel, and its buckle serving- the purpose of a window. The old dame's numerous progeny, in night-gowns and caps, eat their "broth without bread ; and are satisfactorily whipped, much to the edifi- cation of the exulting urchins who.look on. "Old King Cole," at the Surry, is made king of the coal-mines ; and. his " Fiddlers three" of course include PAGANINI, who is pilloried and parodied in all the pantomimes. At the Coburg, "The Witch of Edmon- ton and the Family of the Nobodies furnish the introduction. The masks of the little Nobodies were capital; and "Nobody" was made to do all the mischief.

Madame VESTRIS has produced the most striking of the.Christ- mas changes: by the touch of her wand, she has made Pantomime, Harlequin, and all to disappear; and instead of Harlequin and Columbine, we have the rhace of Orpheus after Eurydice. We like old customs for the cordial spirit contained in them, not for the antiquity of the vessel : we therefore applaud the substitution of a brisk draught of merriment for the customary flat; dose of pantomime. Besides, the Olympic Theatre is too small a stage for the exhibition of the wonders of the magic wand; for in a harlequinade, a blue-bottle-fly is of the dimensions of a bat, and a nest of pantomimic crows could scarcely find a roost on the Olym- pic boards: their dimensions certainly would not furnish a bier for an ogre. Olympic Devils is the title of this very clever bur- lesque; which is by the same author, and equally good, as Olympic Revels. The parodies are amusing, and afford opportunity for introducing numerous popular airs. There is a profusion of puns in the dialogue, and plenty of fun throughout. The gay Widow looks bewitching as Orpheus, and her legs are as fascinating to the Mortals as her melodies to the InfernaLs. Miss FORDE is Eury- dice. There is a Bacchanalian procession, very classic and sylvan; and Orpheus sets the whole Infernal Court, Pluto, the Fates, and the rest, all dancing; while trees, and columns, tripping it away to his lyre, literally fulfil the verse- " Here flowed out a tower so stout,

There hgured in a fountain; Aml a sea-port town the dance went down

Back to back with a mountain."