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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 389

updated
Saturday, 26 February 2005

Marion Terry, Lottie Venne, John Clayton,
Forbes Robertson, G.W. Anson and Sophie Larkin
in G.W. Godfrey's comedy
The Parvenu,
Court Theatre, London, 8 April 1882

Marion Terry

Marion Terry (1852-1930), English actress

(photo: The St. James's Photographic Co, London, 1882)

'Mr. John Clayton has just closed a most successful and interesting season at the Court Theatre. Mr. Godfrey's Parvenu was the very play that a light, careless, well-bred, after-dinner audience required. It was not profound, but it was pretty. There was more wit than wisdom in it. Admirably played and brightly written, it suited the easy manners of to-day. Those on the stage acted and talked pretty much as people act and talk off it. The imaginative faculties were hardly excited; but then, as Mr. Ryder observed about the blank verse, people do not want to think. The Parvenu will go at once into the country, where a genuine welcome is sure to await it. After the forced and vulgar wit with which the provinces have been entertained lately, Mr. Godfrey's dialogue will be a pleasant and wholesome relief. Mr. Anson is lost from the cast - a great, important, and serious loss, for his performances in this play is as good comedy as we can produce nowadays. It is first-class work, and to call it exaggerated is to talk nonsense. The litigious Ledgers, a good fellow at heart, and angry against his own convictions, is pictures to the life. This is an almost faultless specimen of character acting. Mr. John Clayton will become the unaspirated Ledger during the provincial holiday. Mr. [George] Alexander will be the lover [Claude Glynne] instead of Mr. Forbes Robertson, and Miss Kate Bishop the loved one, vice Miss Marion Terry. Like a sensible manager, Mr. Clayton gets well ahead with his arrangements for the future. The Parvenu is not nearly exhausted for London, but two new plays are already ready for the Court - new plays by comparatively new men. Plenty of new blood, my masters. All youth, activity, and promise to the Court. The first play is by Mr. Charles B. Stephenson (Bolton Rowe of old) and Mr. Brandon Thomas, the clever young actor at the St. James's Theatre. The second play is by that very clever little artist and writer, "Dot" [i.e. Dion] Boucicault, who has adapted for the stage [James] Rice and [Walter] Besant's story, The Chaplain of the Fleet.'
(The Theatre, London, Tuesday, 1 August 1882, p.114)

Lottie Venne


Lottie Venne (1852-1928), English actress

(photo: Barraud, London, 1889)

'We do not think any modern play has pleased us so much as The Parvenu. There is a plot in it fairly sufficient to sustain the interest of the audience; there is beauty in it, of youth an maidenhood in different types; there is humour in it that keeps one in good temper and delight from beginning to end; there is satire in it of the very foibles of our own age, sharp, and telling, and uncompromising, and yet so kindly in expression that one feels hopeful rather than angry. There is good scenery, though the changes are only of light - that is, from daylight to sunset and to moonlight - and there is, last but not least, good acting. Men who do not shout or tear the thing to rags, and women who act modestly, and with all their sweetness and grace and liveliness give us the impression that it would be an honour and a happiness to know them off stage. Now, this is saying a good deal in these days of French plays and grotesque buffo. We think it is a distinct triumph of art as against license, sensationalism, and sensualism. We have not seen anything prettier nor heard anything wittier on the London stage. Miss Lottie Venne is the Princess of the play; her style is charming, and her voice clear and sweet. Miss Marian [sic] Terry is also perfect in her part, and the two women are delightful together. The little scene in which they communicate to each other their love affairs is exquisitely tender and laughable, and when Mary Ledger is "up a tree" the play is worth going twenty miles to see. We do not like Mr. Clayton quite so well in humorous parts as in grave. He looks, too, really a scapegrace. Mr. Anson, as Mr. Ledger, M.P., is brilliant, and Miss Sophie Larkin is superb as Lady Pettigrew.'
(The Labour Standard, London, Saturday, 25 November 1882, p.2b)

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