Mrs Kendal (1849-1931)
"New Men and Old Acres"
Comedy by Tom Taylor and A. W. Dubourg.
Produced at the Haymarket Theatre, from 25th October, 1869.
Reviewed in The Illustrated Times (London) - 16th April, 1870.
The brightest event in an irregular theatrical week has been the revival of "New Men and Old Acres" at the HAYMARKET, and with it of course has returned Miss Madge Robertson, in many respects the most important young actress on the stage. Dating the theatrical year from Easter-time, and seeing that Easter is so near at hand again, I think I may safely say that this Haymarket comedy is the greatest treat I have had. On the whole, the year has not been overburdened with brilliant works; and this comedy, though not brilliant at all, is pleasant, refreshing, and far above the average of modern stage plays. The dialogue is polished and refined, and the story healthy and interesting. Besides, the play has the additional merit of being extremely well acted.
Miss Madge Robertson, as I have before hinted, has at once jumped to the front. All this clever young lady requires is practice. She has plenty of intelligence, and, if anything, too much enthusiasm. She is young, and has everything before her. Indeed, she has very few rivals in the important characters of high comedy, for which she will, of course, lay herself out.
Then we have Mr. Howe, that most useful and intelligent of actors, who bears his years as well as a Lafont or Charles Mathews, although, of course, he is considerably younger than either. Add to these Mr. and Mrs. Chippendale, unequalled in their respective business; Mr. Buckstone and Mrs. Fitzwilliam, admirably suited with characters; and Miss Caroline Hill, who plays contralto to the sopranos of the day as well as any young lady in London. This week the comedy has been supplemented by "No Song, No Supper," an old musical farce, which is rightly revived at such a theatre as the Haymarket. Mr. Kendal, among others, plays very cleverly in it.
By Metcalfe Wood and Beatrice Heron-Maxwell
Produced at the St. James's Theatre, on 12th October, 1905.
Reviewed in The Daily Mail (London) - 13th October, 1905.
The distressing and inexplicable thing about the Kendals is that, with the exception of "The Elder Miss Blossom," they are unable, apparently, to find a play that shall appeal to the general public, and also contain a part worthy of the wonderful talents of Mrs. Kendal. Last night, for example, in place of that impossibly artificial piece "Dick Hope," they presented "The Housekeeper," the three-act farce by Metcalfe Wood and Beatrice Heron-Maxwell, which has already been witnessed by a loyal public in the suburbs and the provinces.
This trivial little play, which was noticed fully in our columns when, some months ago, the Kendals brought it to the Camden Theatre, deals with the old, old story of the brave but bashful man who can never talk to a lady without making a fool of himself. In this case his name is Colonel Trent, and he comes to stay with Lord Runswick, not knowing that Runswick's house is kept for him by Lady Audrey Whitby, his lordship'a sister. The colonel, mistaking Lady Audrey for a professional housekeeper, is quite at his ease with her, and thus a happy marriage is eventually brought to pass.
For the first fifteen minutes or so last night the piece proceeded amid a dead silence. Then it woke up a little, and, one way and another, there was a good deal of laughter. Mr. Kendal made the most of the bashful colonel, but it was heartrending to find Mrs. Kendal simpering and meandering through the sillinesses that falls to the lot of Lady Aubrey Whitby! It is something, of course, even to hear Mrs. Kendal simper, and even to watch her meander; she does both, as she does everything, with an exquisite grace, and charm, and skill. But are we never again to see her in a dramatic work of some artistic value?