Australian Play At
"A Victorian Marriage," an Australian play by Warwick Fairfax, was produced last
night at St James's Hall for the first time in public.
It was on the whole a marked
Great pains had been taken to produce the scenes and ideas of 1875, but it was the dialogue and the acting that carried the play.
On the whole, the Victorians found the state of matrimony to be an institution of some merit,
involving difficulties, but with a reasonable prospect of success if certain rules were observed
Of the characters, two, a husband and wife, have been supremely happy They had been blessed with eight children, one of doubtful
authenticity. Each had ventured near the brink of a lapse, but both had retreated in time without injury
to the other
Their son wished to marry, but did not. He was attracted by a beautiful and intelligent actress, charmingly phyed by Huía Munro. She was inspired to some degree by affection, as well as by weariness of
the life of a trouper
Further light on the institution is thrown by Sir Henry Windrow, a middle aged cynic, who had reached the conclusion that wit and
zest, if not beauty, are killed by
The dialogue in which these views are expressed is vigorous and amus-
ing. It furnishes that conflict of wills which is the essence of good drama.
The story is of much less ímport- ance, and much less convincing,
however closely it may reproduce the social struggles of 1875
There are three strands in the
plot. It opens in the furnished lodgings of Miss Carlotta Martin, a distinguished actress playing the Queen in "Hamlet," and courted by both a young but laggard lover, and an elderly but confident roue of 52, the successful wooer of the last act.
The son is the elder member of a family of eight, all of whom, young and old, are highly conventional,
excluding the father, but not ex- cluding the butler, played to perfec-
tion by Mr Charles Tasman.
The father is a man of Liberal tendencies, addicted to reading Matthew Arnold, whom he regards as the prophet of a freer world
("oh Uncle Matthew, why are you not always wholly serious?"), and
not entirely satisfied with a placid
The impact on this family of the news that their commonplace Arthur may marry an actress, is shown in two of the best scenes in the play,
one between the father and son, and another between the father and the betrothed in which the father detects
hidden but still troublesome embers in his own moral equipment.
In the end, the marriage "did r not take place" as "The Times"
newspaper would no doubt have put it Whether Arthur Fielding
sighed as a lover but obeyed as a son, or whether the lady was persuaded to jilt him, is not quite clear. She did not marry him, he
indulged in paroxysms of grief, and she then found her refuge as the mistress of her old friend, Sir
In the last act she and Sir Henry are found in his luxurious country home, she offering him a mellow affection and a dutiful appreciation of the inhabitants of his stud farm, he full of admiration for her talent and character, and believing that the County or district is more likely to welcome his mistress than it would an actress domesticated as his wife.
The success of the play is as- sured by its dialogue and its charac- ter study as well as by the principal
The action is brisk and the cur- tains original. It would have been an improvement if the audience in the first act could have been given a hint of the reason why Sir Henry should take such a vehement interest in the marriage of the son of his friend, a reason not suggested until the last act. Preparation is the function of Act 1, and in this in- stance preparation was not suffici-
Miss Huía Munro and Mr Weingott were admirably supported by Nellie Lamport as a duenna, by Queenie Ashton as the mother of eight, and by a large cast. Her son, Arthur, was far too noisy and as a young blood of the seventies was miscast. Mr Alden both produced | the play and took a leading part.
He had finished a triumphant sea- son as 'King Lear," and for the time being he was too histrionic and too vehement for the part of Sir
- H. S. NICHOLAS.