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I THEATRE ÉÔYAL. \
"HANDS ACROSS THE SEA." I
There was an overflowing bouse at this theatre on Saturday night to witness the first performance of "an entirely new and original drama" in five acts, by Mr. Henry Pettttt, entitled "Hands Across the Seu." New it certainly is, but original it juBt as cer- tainly is not, for every situation, every inci- dent, and every character have been derived from other ploys But these appropriations bavo been bo ingeniously combined and ar- ranged, transposed and modified, that the reault is a piece of dramatic mosaic even more effective and successful than the same writer's "Harbour Lights." If dead and living authors could appear in peraon to establish their claims to the ideas which Mr, Pettitt has borrowed so freely and blended to skilfully, it would require a very large room to bold them all. But tns dramatist would probably plead in excuse that origina- lity, in this kind of writing, has become well nigh impossible, and that there is nothing left for the modern playwright but to copy the example of Moliere, and exclaim, Je pi tuda mon hen on jl te tiottve. The publie does not stop to inquire from whence the materials of the drama aro [drawn which interests and amuses it. It is thanktul to have its atten- tion engaged and Bustained, and its sympa- thies excited by a clever piece of handiwork , it likes to witness the act-drop fall upon a strong situation or an exciting inci- dent; it is pleased with an oppor- tunity of secmti villainy denounced, und a good man and toman emerge triumphantly irom undeserved trials and sufferings, and, above all, it approves of the worthy people m a drama receiving the biggest plums when the "solid pudding" comes to be distributed at the close of the piece. Neither does it objtct to a I it ti s claptrap on the subject of the ¡manifold attractions mid advantages of Australia, and the huo qualities of its population. And all these conditions are f»Hilled in " Hands Across the Seo," while the running up of the Union Jack on boord a jintish steamer lor the protection of a British neuman, who is in tlanger of being arrested as » readmite by the olhcers of a French sloop of war, touches a patriotic chord in the heurts of most of tho
At the outset of the dramtv most of the personages are brought upon the name, which opens at Netllefold Furm, in Devonshire, the abode of Mr. bttllwood, his son \tobert, his stepdaughter Lucy, and ins ward Lilian Mel- lara 'Hit-latter is the daughter of one Dick Melford, who, having lulled in businist many years before-, emigrated to Australia, where he did so well that he Is enabled to make handsome remittances to Stillwood, whosoys nothing about them to Lilian, but sflonda them in increasing the size of Ins furm His buhff, John Dudley, is in love with tlie daughter ot the nbsentee, and bo is Te»m bassett, a country gentleman, who is tbn low comedian of the piece. But Stillvvood intends her for his own son, especially when he learna Irom ii stranger who intro- duces himself as " King, of Australia," that the vessel, in which Melford had token his passage for 1'iiglund, lins gone down tit sen King has brought letters for Lilian and tor Dudley, and us the latter learns for the first time that some shores he holds in a Bal
lu rat mine ara worth 120,000, he is enabled to
[ murry Lilian, with the approbation of her
lather, who turns out to be no other than
'King, of Australia. ' Bullied and exasper ited, young Stillvvood, who is embarrassed by debts contracted at n gambling house in Pins, vows to be revenged upon his success lui rival, omi this is where the trouble begins It fin Is us full development in the second anti third acts six months Inter, when the scene is shifted to the French capital, where Dudley, who has married Lilian in the interval, Kobert Sttllwootl, Haa- st It, and Lucy aie brought together again. «Count Paul tlo Renal, a piofes sional gambitr und lone, at young StilI w nod's uUL'^cstinn,endeavours to compromise the reputation of Lilian, ami boasts ot it tit a gambling house, where be is knocked down by her husband Upon leaving the gambling house the count is robbed and murdered by H .bert Sttllwootl, ntded and ussi«.tetl by Jean de Lussar, the sister and confederate ol Múdame Vollerie, the keeper of the saloon. Dudley conies out ot the pluce immediately atiervvnrds, is accused of tho murder by the real assassin, und is arrested, tried, convicted, und seiitcnctd lu death. Ile escapes from the prison on the eve» of his execution, is pursuit), and is about to be shot by a platoon ot soldiers, when Ins wife arrives with a reprieve, nnd the third act closes v, ith o striking tableau 1 he fourth passes on board a steamer, which lu within 21 hours of the coast of New South Wales. Dudley, who hld been transported to New Caledonia, has been picked up from a boot, the sole »ure ivor of a party ot con- victs w ho boil escaped from thence IIib wife is on board the steamer, so are Uobert Still- vvood, Bassett, and Lucy Although dis- guised us a sailor, he is recognised bv all ot these, and while the captain refuses to sur- rend' r the fugitive to the» French oiheers who claim lum, Stillvvood resolves to denounce lum as an eiiictVassiion us the vessel reaches Isyiluci. '1 he last act takes place in view of "our benutiful harbour," and is mainly occitptel with the» unravelling of the complicated web of evil woven by the son of the Devonshire farmer Dudley's inno- cence is proved, and the guilt of Kobert Still wood is established , Bu»sett marries Lucy, and old Mellon! is present to bless the re union of ins .liitigbt. r with the husband of her choice W bat more could be desired?
Ot the tost ueiiernllv, it may ho sold that it is as good as it the tlriinotist had written the pteci spet nilly for the company Mr Charles Worner, who met with on enthusiastic recep- tion, has a strong part ni John Dudley, and bo plays it witu a wilgin, tin impressive earnestness, and a broad grasp ot oil its sahtnt characteristic1», which contributed in a very important degree to the pronounced success which the- ilriima achieved. As the light hearted farm billilli in the» first net ; as the courageous vindicator of Ins wife's Blain less reputation, in thesecond ; as the prisoner doomed to death, ant) combating Ins evil destiny, in the third ; as the fugitive convict, a prey to cotillieiiug emotions, ni th« tourth ; und nH the lion extricated from his toils, in the filth, Mr Womer car nid the» niidiunee entirely with lum, and obtained a heartv call at the end ol inch act, it compliment deservedly extended to tho other leading characters. Miss Aila Word, who also rect ivetl a cordial welcome, gove Mich an mr ol reality to the part of the gambling-bouse keeper, und caused ittoatand out ni such clear rebel, tint one could not lit lp wiHtung there had been more foi her to tlo in the piece. Miss Morris seems to have a vested interest in emotional ports, but she is apt to près, nt them as being all olone pattern, and is melin. <1 to become stagey and nrttliciol in situations which re- uniré "one t melt ot nature" to make thctu truly pathetic Miss , Kinma Chambers, always bright, intelligent, mid piquante, is especially so in lho diameter of Lucy Nattle fold, tt. which she imported an agreeable variety and a constant vivacity. She and Mr. 1 lion «npply the cornelly of tho piece. His Tom Hassett is a tleluhtlul piece of ncting lils tola! nil-conception of the loot that Lucy is in love with him anti that Lilian is not, ami the equally diverting »mt eiileiiUui which arise botweeu Dudley anti .himself, when Tom returns Irom n trip to Australia in the full belief that he is going to marry Lilian,and ts nmiued by tliu discovery that she is now Mrs Dudley, were admirable in their way, and provoked roora of loughton Mr. Klemming's iiptitude for ports in which cool malignity and sullen, silent viiidictiveneBs ure required was illustrated with good effect In blsltobert .Stillvvood, anti received its em- phatic approbation in Irc'quciit groans from the» young gentlemen in the gallery. Alike corni.liment was poid to .Mr H li. Vincent lor ins Jean ile Lassie-a pint upon which be has evidently bestowed great pains, and with results a« flaitsloetory to the uudtenco na they are creditable to lunisell. Equally gootl-and still better oh regards the l'rench itttent, und more particiibulv the» "r's"-waa the Count l'util nt Mr. Coles-a cleverly designed omi nicely lluishi ti portrait of tho witked iioblenii.n of the «tagt». Mr. Jont'H asking ot Australia, and M- Clitherow oh
Farmer Sullwood, must not bo pusseil over | without a word pf apiolo! praise; mu) even nuco subordinate puns oh Captain Loud and Iliriun Hickory wem rinsed into prominence by their eorelul piesenniti m at the bonds tit Mr. K II Itusaull mid Mr. 11. Lestoti rcspectt vol j.
Mr. Gortlon lins painted two beautiful scenes for the drama, viz, Nettlefold Farm anti Sydney Harbour, and wau called for to receive tliu plaudits ol the audience for the nttur. "Hands Across the Sea" will be re- peated every evening until lurthnr notice,and tau bcurcely lull to enjoy a lengthened run