A Period Theatre Review presented by www.stagebeauty.net
STORY OF THE PLAY
The "Sleeping Beauty" is a real pantomime for children. Tennyson's story was apparently not enough for the authors, so they have woven into the fabric other plots, or sub-plots, which, however, do not detract from the main idea. The children experience no difficulty in following the story as it is presented on the stage at Drury Lane.
Anarchista, the wicked fairy, has become the second wife of a man she hates, the Duke of Monte Blanco. She has turned him into a scarecrow, and kidnapped Auriol, his infant son (by his first wife). This boy she throws to the witches to be killed, and goes off to the castle of Duke Nemo to cast an evil spell over his newlyborn daughter, Prince Marcella, already betrothed to Auriol.
The witches cannot agree, and dawn arrives before Auriol is killed, so they have to disappear, leaving him asleep on a bed of buttercups, where he is found and adopted by a peasant couple. Time passes, and in a beautiful rose garden we find the Princess Mlarcella in love with Auriol, who is now a common gardener, and Auriol in love with her. The evil spell of Anarchista, which has so far been foiled by Puck, now begins to work, and having pricked her finger at the spinning wheel, Princess Marcella falls asleep, and is borne off to her father's castle, where she remains for several years.
The Duke of Monte Blanco, who was turned into a scarecrow, slowly comes to life, having had many amusing experiences during the eighteen years he has been frightening the birds away. Meanwhile, Duke Nemo has been persuaded by his Chancellor, Pompos, that a certain foundling, Finnykin, is the lost son of the Duke of Monte Blanco, the boy who was betrothed to his daughter Marcella.
Next follows the wonderful dream of the Sleeping Beauty, Princess Marcella. All the well-known stories and legends of the children come to her as she dreams on her gorgeous bed. Then Auriol kisses her, Finnykin's kisses having failed to arouse her, and, as Puck decreed, she awakens, amid scenes of great splendour.
Just at that moment Anarchista appears in the background, and, with a word, transforms Auriol into an ugly beast.
The second part of the pantomime opens in the Blue Lagoon, where the Duke of Monte Blanco is found endeavouring to hasten the wedding of his supposed son, Finnykin, for Anarchista has decreed that should his son be unmarried by the end of the month the Duke shall be again transformed into a scarecrow.
The Duke's efforts have been so successful that Finnykin -the supposed Auriol- is about to marry his sweetheart, Zizi, a dairymaid. Before the ceremony actually takes place, however, the deception of Pompos is announced by Anarchista. Search is at once made for the Duke's real son, Auriol, two detectives, Blake and Holmes, being employed for that purpose. Puck has started an Ideal Dairy Farm, which the detectives search for an ugly hairy beast that can talk.
When at last Auriol is found he is ashamed of his appearance, but is persuaded to return to his little sweetheart, Princess Marcella. In spite of his ugliness he finds that the love of the Princess for him is as strong as ever, and she kisses him fervently.
That kiss has the effect of re-transforming Auriol, and the Beast becomes a human being once-more, this time to marry the Princess Marcella and to live happily with her for ever after.
"The Sleeping Beauty" is the most successful pantomime Mr. Arthur Collins has produced for many years. It is full of fun, and there is not a suspicion of vulgarity from beginning to end. It is magnificently mounted, and divided into two parts, with twelve scenes in all. There is plenty of variety, and the various dances and choruses are set to tuneful music.
Mr. George Graves and Mr. Will Evans are responsible for a good deal of the humour, while the delightful singing of Miss Florence Smithson and Wilfrid Douthitt adds greatly to the charm and beauty of the production.
The cast also includes such popular artistes as Mr. Charles Rock, Mr. Barry Lupino, Mr. Austin Melford, and the Poluskis (Will and Sam). Pretty little Renee Mayer is a great favourite as Puck, while Miss Irene May, Miss Alice Chartres, and Miss May Hannam are much appreciated for their artistic work.
SCENES FROM THE PLAY