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THE THEATRES.

ROYAL— "THUNDERBOLT."    

In his production of "Thunderbolt," which, was last night seen for the first time on any stage, Mr. William Anderson made a meritorious attempt to worthily represent, before an Australian audience, a phase of the early life of the continent. The sen-

sational incidents which largely form the stories of older countries — wars, revolu- tions, and the like — have no parallel in Australia., and except for the bushranger, who at one time infested the bush, our his- torical life has been remarkably pacific. It is the story of one of these outlaws which the authors of Mr. Anderson's new play have seized upon as the foundation of their work, and at the same time they have shown the extent of the power in the hands   of some of the bushrangers in this country.   Mr. Ambrose Pratt, the author of the book, "Three Years of the Career of Frederick Ward, Otherwise known as Thunderbolt," has collaborated in the present melodrama with Mr. Sydney Josephs, a well-known inter-State journalist. Curiously enough, both of the authors lived for many years —  

in fact, their most impressionable years, their boyhood— in Thunderbolt's country, around Tamworth, Moonbi, and Bendemeer, and, therefore, they have been able to sup- ply local color to their work which gives an added air of verisimilitude. Their treat- ment is bold, but at the same time, in order to preserve the Australian bush character— which does not incline towards loquacious ness — they have avoided sensationalism in diction, and have told the story in a man- ner none the less strong and effective be- cause of the absence of "high faultin'" -the marks of so many of the turgid melo- dramas of foreign manufacture. "Thunder- bolt" is, in fact, a melodrama without heroics. The plot itself does not outrage the probabilities, and the characters are   such as may always be met with in the bush. Although Thunderbolt is elevated to the position of a hero, the authors have taken an opportunity to preach a moral on the curses of drink and gambling. In re- presenting ''Thunderbolt" in a favorable   light, however, it cannot be said that a very serious departure has been made from the well-authenticated - facts. That he was   generous even in his crimes is well   known to many witnesses alive even   at the present day, and it is quite in keeping with his character that he   should have quixotically gone to the rescue of a damsel in distress, especially when he was able to add to his purse by a very profitable robbery. This is really the pivot     of the play. A youth, under the influence of drink, has committed a forgery to obtain funds to pay his gambling debts. The   forged cheque becomes an instrument in ithe hands of an unscrupulous villain to coerce the father and sister of the young   prodigal to his wishes, and it is the high- way man who, acting according to the law- less methods of his profession, rescues the youth from the evil courses he meditates         and counters the scheme of the villain. It is unnecessary to present the story in fur- ther detail, but the audience, which packed   the theatre last night, enthusiastically realised that Mr. Anderson had presented   it in a manner not approached by any preceding attempt. One of the most ex-   citing incidents in the life of Thunderbolt— the leap over the chasm near Bendemeer,   known to the present day as Thunderbolt's Leap — was reproduced with the steeple chaser Rise Up doing the service of the outlaw's horse Combo in the desperate leap. For this scene Mr. Rege Robins had painted a most effective scene of the gorge in the Moonbi range. Other very artistic scenery had been painted by the same artist, showing the bush in its most smiling mood, and added realism was given to the work of Mr. Robins by the speci- mens of Australian fauna, which, in the sixties were more plentiful than now. An excellent idea of life in the back-blocks was given as the action of the play was worked out in a bush tavern. The cast had been carefully selected. Miss Eugenie Duggan admirably portrayed the heroine, who sacrifices herself for her brother, and in the course of her adventures saves the life of Thunderbolt, which is treacherously attempted by that other, but unromantic bushranger, Morgan. Mr. Lawrence Dun- bar was entrusted with the part of Thun- derbolt, and Mr. Bert Bailey created the humorous character of the Hon. Algernon Chetwynd, "the Jackeroo." Messrs. Stir- ling Whyte (as the station holder) and Ed- mund Duggan (hotel-keeper), and a strong company support. The huge audience ap- peared highly delighted. There will be a matinee on Wednesday.  

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