Press Clippings for the week ending
Saturday, 20 June 2009

A random selection of clippings
from newspapers and magazines

Ethel Irving as Lady Frederick Berolles
in W. Somerset Maugham's comedy
Lady Frederick,
Court Theatre, London, 26 October 1907


the Dressing Room scene from Lady Frederick, Court, London, 26 October 1907,
with, left to right, Graham Browne as Paradine Fouldes,
Ethel Irving as Lady Frederick, and Ina Pelly as Angelique

(photo: Dover Street Studios, London, 1907)

'On the whole, one must confess to rather a disappointment over Lady Frederick, the new comedy by Mr. W.S. Maugham, author of A Man of Honour, in which Miss Muriel Mydford played the married barmaid with such remarkable force a little while ago [in a revival, Avenue Theatre, London, 18 February 1904]. the reason is easy to tell. A Man of Honour was a play of genuine life. It had something to say. Its faults were honest. Lady Frederick is just a conventional, tricky comedy, not quite clever enough at its own game.
'Its theme, in truth, is almost identically that of Sweet Kitty Bellairs [comedy by David Belasco, first produced in London at the Haymarket, 5 October 1907] without the costumes and the excitements. Lady Frederick is supposed to be an extravagant young Irish widow of the present day, staying at Monte Carlo. She had at one time allowed herself to be innocently compromised in order to shield a weaker woman. A certain lady Mereston, however - a very acid English person - denounces lady Frederick publicly as an adventuress. Lady Frederick tells the real story. Lady Mereston refused to believe it. Not so Lady Mereston's brother, an old admirer of Lady Frederick. He not only pays off certain debts with which Lady Frederick is entangles, but at the end makes the last of the many proposals of marriage that occur in the course of the evening, and brings down the curtain upon a desired embrace.
'SOME OLD DEVICES.
'As a matter of fact, quite a large proportion of the play's time is taken up by these proposals of marriage to Lady Frederick. Nearly all the men come up one after another. One of them - the orthodox stage villain, here represented as being of Jewish descent - tries to force her to marry him by lending her brother 900 at an exorbitant rate of interest, and threatening to ruin her in two ways if she does not consent. A wearisome old dodge! Then there is the usual nice boy, whom Lady Frederick considerately disillusions by inviting him into her dressing-room, and letting him see her put on her hair and rouge her cheeks and pencil her eyebrows. Another aspirant, an elderly admiral, is choked off even more promptly.
'When not deprecating the attentions of these men, by the way, Lady Frederick seems to spend most of her time in evading those of creditors. One of the principal scenes of the play represents her wheedling round a visitant dressmaker, to whom she owed 700, with promises of invitations to an archduchess's party.
'SECONDHAND INCIDENTS.
'As may be seen, so far as incident is concerned, practically everything in the piece is secondhand. It is put together with fair cleverness, but not marvellously well. One fancies that Mr. Maugham's real hope was that Lady Frederick, as a buoyant, brilliant, large-hearted, impulsive Irishwoman, would, by sheer force of personality, carry everything before her and dazzle the audience into delight.
'It is to be feared, unfortunately, that this is not quite what Miss Ethel Irving's interpretation is likely to do. Extremely intelligent and alert as she always is, but fearfully nervous, Miss Ethel Irving under-played nearly every scene, and seemed afraid of just the moments that she should have attacked. Her exhibitions of temper were as different from the genuine Irish ''paddy'' as a drizzle is from a thunderstorm. She adopted a certain brogue, but it was an accent rather than an inspiration.
'Of the others, Mr. C.M. Lowne as Lady Mereston's brother was wholly delightful, Miss Beryl Faber doing all that was necessary with Lady Mereston herself. Mr. Graham Browne as the nice boy viewed Lady Frederick's toilet with admired astonishment.'
(The Daily Chronicle, London, Monday, 28 October 1907, p. 3e)

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Marie Lloyd enthusiastically received
at the Orpheum, Brooklyn,
Monday afternoon, 21 October 1907

Marie Lloyd

Marie Lloyd (1870-1922),
'The Queen of Comediennes'

(photo: Ellis & Walery, London, circa 1908)

'There was a big audience at the Orpheum yesterday afternoon, and in it were a number of theatrical people who were extremely anxious to learn how Brooklyn would greet Marie Lloyd, the English singer, who came preceded by a reputation of singing rather risque songs. They found out very quickly, for Miss Lloyd made a hit at the Orpheum that isn't often equalled in one afternoon, and the approval that she won had no reserve clause in it. Miss Lloyd's songs are a trifle broad, perhaps, but that is the most extreme thing that can be said of them, and the one who sings them is so overflowing with wholesomeness that criticism is disarmed by her very personality. On the stage Miss Lloyd behaves just as though she thought life the most delightful thing ever, and off the stage she is just the same - flowing over with enthusiasm, filled with a live interest in everything with which she comes in contact, her heart in her art and her whole being anxious to please, and delighted when she does please.
'It is Miss Lloyd's first visit to America in ten years, she having been in New York just a decade ago. It is her first visit to Brooklyn, and she was genuinely delighted yesterday with the reception she received. ''Brooklyn is splendid,'' was her pronouncement after the matinée, as she was preparing to be whirled over to Manhattan, where her husband [Alec Hurley], who is for the first time in America, is appearing at the Colonial. It was a début for each of them yesterday afternoon, and they had all sorts of fun over the fact, exchanging telegrams before the performances, and meeting as soon as possible after they had done their respective ''turns.'' The ''Spanish Burlesque,'' ''Something on His Mind,'' and ''Do They Do Such Things in London'' were three of the songs with which Miss Lloyd caught the audience, and a big audience it was yesterday afternoon, and the songs themselves, their music and the dancing with which she accompanied the ''Spanish Burlesque,'' were all genuinely worth while.''
(Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, Tuesday, 22 October 1907)

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Viola Tree returns briefly to
the stage, London, January 1916

Viola Tree

Viola Tree (Mrs Alan Parsons, 1884-1938),
English actress and singer,
daughter of Sir Herbert Beerbohm and Lady Tree;
she married Alan Parsons in 1912.

(photo: E.O. Hoppe, London, 1915)

'Miss Viola Tree who appeared [as Viola] in three performances of Twelfth Night at the Royal Victoria Hall [the Old Vic, London] last week. Miss Viola Tree in private life is Mrs. Alan Parsons, and although domesticity has practically robbed the drama of one of its favourites, we are glad to see that her name part has enticed this actress from her seclusion into a brief reunion with her old admirers.'
(The Sketch, London, Tuesday, 12 January 1916, p. 54)

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© John Culme, 2009