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an exception. The idea of the buckish country tone of irony, leaving the joke and the laugh to pettifogger was original; we trust Mr. Dibdin the audience, he very kindly conducted them to will not abandon this character. In the present | it hy his own grimace, and spluttered and gabbled piece it is a mere sketch. The country waiter | through his part, as if it had been Ollapod or was very good, and the landlady not amiss. Caleb Quotem. The humour of Puff is too re.
The chief merit of this piece, however, was fined for the comic habits of Fawceti. the dialogue, with a few exceptions as to the Mathews's Sir Fretful Plagiary was admirable; puas. The first scene in the second act, in it was most successfully drest; his affected canwhich Seiria ridicules some modern fashions, || dour had a very fine tone of hypocrisy ; his pea particularly that of Egyptian furniture, was tulance and impatience were given with the most written with a true spirit of wit and vivacity, || inimitable exterior gesture; in a word, Mathews, which would have done honour to any writer of in this character, was not inferior to Parsons
himself. Dungle and Sneer were both mediocre. The piece was well supported by the per- || Mrs. Liston, in Tilburina, was excellent, and formers, and warmly received by the audience. - | Waddy was a good representative of the muie Among the performers we have chiefly to notice Lord Burleigh. Mrs. Litchfield, who may be said to have done The piece was well received, and continues to more than justice for the author. Mathews was attract. excellent; and dressed his character most admirably. Mr. Young appeared to no advantage; the part was unsuited to him, and had little effect. An ziry, spirited Epilogue was delivered by Mrs. STRUCTURE OF OUR THEATRES. Litchfield, in a manner which procured her gane
MR. EDITOR, ral applause.
Mr Sheridan's dramatic satire, The Critic, has The strictures in my first letter were confined been revived at this theatre. It has been a gond to the shape of the house, or part allotted to the deal anticipated in its effect by Tom Thumb, a Spectators; the remarks in my second epistle piece which, without the ostentation of criti- had for th-ir object the disposition of the prosce! cism, or any grave attempt to expose the faults | nium, or intermediate space between the house of dramatic composition by means of ridicule, and the stage; the observations of this my third is invariably diverting by the vivacity of its | serawl will entirely relate to the arrangement of burlesque and the pleasant originality of its ca. the stage itself. ricature.
With regard to this latter part of our theatrical The Rehearsal was of that class of plays which structures, allow me to begin by observing that Aristotle might have written,-criticism thrown our nation, which perhaps makes a more dex. into a dramatic form, and familiarised and invi- terous and more extensive use of machinery ihan gorated by stage examples; Tom Thumb might || any other, in the production and improvement of have been the combination of Aristophanes and l ojects of direct u'ility and comfort, seems to Plautus; but the Critic has all the grace and ele- avail itself less than any other, of the powers of gance of Horace, with the addition of that hu- || mechanism, in the promotion and the perfecting mour so peculiar to English writers.
of instruinents and means of mere diversion and Notwithstanding the value of this piece, it is show. better in the closet than on the stage. The ma- In the great Italian and French theatres, every jority of an audience understand nothing of cri- | chinge of scenery, however extensive its whole, cicism. They judge of good or bad writings only || and however complicated its parts, is entirely acby effect; they laugh at a thing decidedly ridi- | complished by means of machinery. The tuin. culous, without any help from critical sagacity, ing of one single wheel effects at once, both the or application of the joke beyond its present ob- | simultaneous retreat of the entire assemblage of jeci.When Burleigh shakes his head and makes wings and drops and flat, that are to disappear, his exit, the laugh is at the actor's grimace; the and the simultaneous advancement of the entire satire on the stiff and empty courtier of modern set of lateral and top and back scenes, that are tragedy is perceived, and relished but by few. to come forward in their place: so that the For stage effect, therefore, Tom Thumb is much deepest forest or gardrn scene is, as if by masuperior to the Critic-Its satire is of a very dif. gic, in a twinkling, converted into a street or ferent value and kind. The Haymarket company | palace. is not quite strong enough to do justice to this In the English play houses, on the contrary, piece. Fawcett was the Puff; but he was not every change of scenery (if we exçept a few of solemn nor dry enough for the impostor. Instead those very confined and partial transfigurations of of delivering the dialogue in a grave and serious our Harlequinades, termed Pantomimes) is at
chieved by dint of hands; and, whether the ac- be supposed to lead to different distinct contition lie in Peru or in China, in ancient Greece guous apartments, it has as many more additional or modern London, whenever the scene is to he doors as there are supposed to be such apartshifted, out pop a parcel of fellows in ragged ments, each contrived in some one of the wings laced liveries, to announce the event, and to that line the sides of the stage. This practice bring it al'out by mere manual labour. They not only increases the illusion of the scene, hut, are not only distinctly heard, giving each other what is still more material, renders much easier directions to that purpose, to the unspeakable | the understanding of the plot: not to speak of annoyance of the actor, whom they perhaps out. the infinitely more striking effect which is probellow in some of his finest passages--but they duced by a performer of a commanding mien, are even distinctly seen, tugging and pulling and invested with a dignified character, entering piecemeal at each different piece of the scenery : the scene at the centre, and from his very first of these various divisions some hitch, others appearance presenting himself in front to the tumble; here a wing comes rolling on the stage spectators, than when obliged to slide edgeways before its time, there another lags behind until on and off the boards, through an interstice in the perhaps the time for a new removal is arrived :
side scenes. and thus does every one of those changes of de. In England there hardly ever is a central door, coration, so frequent in English plays, only pre- contrived in the flat which closes the scene : sent a scene of confusion, niost distressing to Whatever be the performance, and whoever be
the personages, they all either walk in and out at I shall not expatiate at length, on the constant the permanent doors, which form part of the violation of those laws of perspective, which proscenium; and, which, as I have already obough to make the whole range of wings and served, offer in their architecture and decoration droops and nat, one single cohering body; or on no harmony or connection whalever with the pethe equally constant disregard of those rules of culiar scenery or event exhibited ; or they slide in congruity, which shonld render every one of and out, between the intervals of the wings, these different component parts of the same which are generally intended to represent a solid whole, subservient to an uniform style of archi- || cohering wall; so that, were the laws of per. tecture and of decoration. Suffice it to say, thai spective sufficiently attended to, in the painting this violation and this disregard of the most of the scenes, to render the separation between essential conditions of theatrical illusion are car. their different divisions as imperceptible as it ried in England to the highest pitch. Instead of ought to be, and to make them look like an unfitting to each other's extremities with nicety, | interrupted mass of masonry, the entrée and the the wings and drops often encroach upon each exit of each personage athwart this solid wall, other's boundaries in such a way as to occasion, I would every time appear effected by downright in the different objects which they represent, the witchcraft. most unsightly wainnings and breaks : and not In French scenery, a room, represented unfrequently is the roof of the humblest hovel as inhabited, always is made to display a lose in the tattered sky. For the most part, the few chairs, and other pieces of appropriate fure wings, neither in the style, nor in the propor- niture, disposed all around, and ready for the tions, nor in the perspective of their architec- || performers to help themselves to, when required: ture, correspond at all with the flat with which nor, if, in the play that is acting, a dialogue bethey are associated; and between the extreme tween two seated personages, should not be inshallowness of these wings, and the excessive tended to take place, until, perhaps, near the width of ihe intervening spaces between them, very conclusion of the scene, would a couple of haif the audience is treated, in all our play houses, che gentlemen in laced iiveries aforementioned, with a full view, not only of the premeditated as if endowed with the gift of second sight from and full dress play, acted before the scenes, but the very rising of the curtain, lug two lumbering of the extempore and undress play, going for. arm chairs to the very centre of the in all other warid behind the stage, to the utter destruction of respecis totally unfurnished boards; there to reall illusion, decorum, and pleasure !
main, staring the spectators full in the face, On the French stage, whenever the scene re. during the whole of the ensuing scene, in order presents a room, particular attention is given to to give them timely in:imation of a conversathe making that room appear habitable and inha- tion, which, perhaps, the author has been torbited. It always displays in the very centre of turing his wits to represent as an unpremeditated the fat or closing part, its own appropriate | and spontaneous effusion, resulting from the folding door, at which the dramatis persona most unforeseen concurrence of incidents. usually go in and out; and if, from the peculiar texture of the play exhibited, this room should