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2 corrections, most recently by doug.butler - Show corrections

Australian   Play At  

St. James's


"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  

Henry Windrow.

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



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