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I "THE MONK AND THE I WOMAN."

"The Monk and the Woman," a romantic melodrama by Frederick Melville,, dealing

with mediaeval France, forms the Christmas I

attraction at the Adelphi Theatre, whero the new play was successfully produced on Sat- urday. The author has taken some trouble In the earlier scenes to secure tho atmos- phere of the period, and there Is some well written dialogue, but the latter half of the drama Is crowded with improbabilities. How- ever, as these excited a great deal of ap plauBC. it Is to bo presumed that the crowd- ed audience was pleased to And itself on fnmillar ground. At the end, whero the hero and heroine were In danger of extermination, and had, In fact, retreated up a staircase before the swords of tho enemy, the Chateau of St. Clalro was suddenly destroyed by an earth- quake. The whole oí the palatial Interior, with ita hangings, marble columns, and'paint- ed ceilings, fell into pieces, and the opon country was revealed, with a volcano spout- ing llames and red hot cinders, and tho happy pair 011 their little eminence alone Bavod amongst all who had crowded the animated scene. This clever spectacular effect was heartily cheered, and tho curtain waa raised half a dozen times in response to the ap- plause. Mr. George Willoughby, a very ex- perienced uctor-manager, produced the new piece for George Marlow, Ltd., and much of the success svas duo to his judgment in bring- ing in new artists to strengthen the combina- tion, namely, Messrs. Gerald Kay Souper, Richard Bellalrs, and T. W. Lloyd, all of whom were effectively placed.

The story is one of conflict between the Clois- ter and tho Court. The curtain rises upon the first of several picturesque tableaux painted by Mr. J. S. Mann, showing the refectory of an old French monastery, with gracefully groined roof and btono-flagged floor, whero the brethren cat their joints and pasties out of pesvtor dishes at atoutly-timbered tables. Tho brothera file In In their cassocks and hempen girdles full of gossip about Brother John (a lovable young monk as portrayed by Mr. Bellairs), who has boen ordered six days' cells on bread and water for speaking to a svoman. The general opinion is that John is bewitched by unholy spells. Peter, the pnunch-bcllled glutton of the establishment, a harmless, good-hearted joker with red hair, depicted with unctuous humour by Mr. Frank Crossley, exclaims "By St. Paul, this woman malady is a dangerous complaint." This was the first of many similar sentiments which the holiday audlenco greeted with shouts of laugh- ter. It seems that Liane, "the Pearl of the Court," with her friend Vernet (the latter character acceptably played by Miss Pearl Smith) havo fled lo the monastery, where they aro pursued by Prlnco Henri do Montrale, with ordors from the King to recapture them at all costs. Tho libertino King is anxious to secure Llano for himself, as a preliminary to which the youthtul beauty is to be forced into a marriage with Henri, whom she doe» not fear as a companion but dislikes as a husband. Henri takes possession of tho monastery with an armed guard, overawes the monks, and bo foro returning to tho cnpital, leaves Llano In the custody of tho venerablo prior, Father Ig- natius, a character willi insufficient colour, which Mr. C. R. Stanford (stage-manager) plays with artistic care, though unable to make much of It. The prior hands tho key of her cell to tho ' steadiest young monk he knows, Brother Paul, who falls In lovo with tho royal ward In ton minutes!

Tho first act Is practically comedy, and in- cludes a vivacious scene showing the woman'i wiles of Liane in her attempt to subdue and take to herself her handsome, innocent gaoler. Those lovo passages, with Paul's anguished determination to resist the coquette, were capitally shown'by Mr. George Cross anti Miss Nellie Bramley-the latter an attractive young actress with a speaking voice of round and tuneful quality. Mr. Cross wns at his best in the scene where Paul is' haled tieforo the King, seated beneath a canopy of purplo and gold in a beautiful Interior, and Is challenged ns to the witchcraft by which he has won Linne to lovo him. Before that point the actor had chiefly shown Paul's deep sorrow and devotion at his new destiny In regard to Liane-"God sent you Into my life. God keep you there for ever"-but in his fearless analysis of tho King's character he impres- sively assumed a more dramatic manner. The King, enraged at Paul'B audacity, orders his minions to search for and destroy his wiznrd'3 charm, and whilst thoy do this tho guard pre- pare to fire their arquebuses. But only the symbol of salvation hongs round his neck, and tho curtain fnlls upon tho triumphant ex- clamation of Llano-"They daro not fire upon

the Cross."

Mr. Kay Couper makes a hit in the new piece by his elaborately-studied representation of the Kin- as a handsome, engaging, ' witty, easily-ruffled tyrant, graceful In every move- ment, and dazzling in the richest npparol of tho period. Mr. T. W. Lloyd played with weight and aplomb as the ssvnshbuckllng Henri, worsted in his repented duels with the monk (swords agnlnst quarter-staff), and eventually outwitted by the hero, who appro- priates his beaver and cloak, and Is married to Llano in tho royal chapel before the King discovers tho trick. Amongst the other cha- racters Miss Nellie Ferguson conveyed the idea of melancholy appropriate to the un- happy, faded, flisenrded favourite who Is mur- dered In her nttompt to warn tho King of Prlnco Henri's conspiracy; Miss Beth Mur- doch showod genuino promise as the fair bnlrod girl in love with Brother John; Miss Margaret Linden was handsome and volatile as tho Comtesso do Salis; and Mr. Arthur Shirley appeared as tho braggart Captain Ar-

mande.

There will bo a matinee on Thursday.

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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