Cigarette card for the week ending
Saturday, 22 November 2008

Pal o'Archie's,
a burlesque sketch of Ruggero Leoncavallo's opera, Pagliacci,
'concocted' by Sir Augustus Harris and Charles Brookfield,
with music by James M. Glover,
produced at the Palace Theatre of Varieties, Cambridge Circus, London,
on Tuesday, 11 July 1893,
starring Billie Barlow, Juliette Nesville, Edward Lewis and William Morgan

<I>Pal o'Archie's</I>

Billie Barlow and Juliette Nesville
as they appeared in Pal o'Archie's,
produced at the Palace Theatre of Varieties, Cambridge Circus, London,
on Tuesday, 11 July 1893

(photo: Alfred Ellis, 20 Upper Baker Street, London, 1893)

This Woodburytype cigarette card, issued in England with Ogden's Cigarettes about 1893, features a photograph of Billie Barlow as Silvio and Juliette Nesville as Nedda in Pal o'Archie's, a burlesque sketch of Ruggero Leoncavallo's opera, Pagliacci [first performed in London at Covent Garden, 19 May 1893, when Nedda was played by Nellie Melba], 'concocted' by Sir Augustus Harris and Charles Brookfield, with music by James M. Glover, produced at the Palace Theatre of Varieties, Cambridge Circus, London, on Tuesday, 11 July 1893, starring Billie Barlow, Juliette Nesville, Edward Lewis and William Morgan.

'A PAL o' ARCHIE'S is the punning title selected for Sir Augustus Harris and James Glover's travestie on, now in rehearsal, and shortly to be produced at the Palace Theatre.'
(The Era, London, Saturday, 3 June 1893, p. 14d)

'London, Wednesday Night. . .
'The burlesque sketch, A Pal o'Archie's, produced at the Palace Theatre last night, was disappointing. The story has been concocted by Sir Augustus Harris and Mr. Charles Brookfield, while Mr. J.M. Glover is responsible for the music. Though the sketch is professedly suggested by Leoncavello's opera, Il Pagliacci, the most striking points in the opera are turned into buffoonery in the endeavour to make the travesty suitable to the taste of a music-hall audience; but the mounting is admirable, and the little piece is fairly well played.'
(Birmingham Daily Post, Birmingham, England, Thursday, 13 July 1893, p. 4f)

'It was not drink nor shareholders I was going to write about, however - I was going to commit a few remarks about A Pal o'Archie's. With regard to that, it may be my fault or it may be the fault of the work itself, but there is something about it I don't like. There is more cynical satire of a broadly obvious kind in it than the merry jocularity that should, in my humble opinion, characterise the kind of work, and the cynicism is a trifle vulgar. That is its pervading air, it seemed to me. Otherwise, there is humour in it - the opening is funny - and the music, selected and original, is excellent and ''go''-ey. The cast do (or does) some capital work, too. Miss Nesville, dainty and delicate, makes a charming Nedda. Messrs. Edward Lewis and W. Morgan do good service in the parts of Canio and Tonio, and Miss Billie Barlow makes a dashing (perhaps a little too dashing) Silvio. A ''Dance of Eight,'' consisting largely, as the modern fashion is, of prepared skirts and coloured lights, was joyfully encored, and has truly a pleasing effect.'
(Nestor, 'Slashes and Puffs,' Fun, London, Wednesday, 26 July 1893, p. 33a/b)

'When you have the opportunity, go and shake hands with A Pal o'Archie's, which is a merry skit, by Sir Augustus Harris and C.H.E. Brookfield, on Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, and is an important ''turn'' on the programme at the Palace Theatre of Varieties. Mr. James M. Glover cleverly parodies a number of Leoncavallo's numbers; and Miss Juliette Nesville, Miss Billie Barlow, Mr. Edward Lewis, and Mr. William Morgan, by their labour as performers, make much capital out of a capital little burlesque.'
('The Call Boy,' Judy: The Conservative Comic, London, Wednesday, 26 July 1893, p. 41b)

'A Pal o'Archie's being the pièce de résistance at the Palace, it might sound anomalous to describe it as irresistible; but, at any rate, the authors (or concocters, as Mr. Brookfield and Sir Augustus Harris prefer to dub themselves) have turned out an entertaining parody of one of the operatic successes of the season, albeit they have followed the lines of the original none too closely, evening for a violently-extravagant travesty.
'The prologue of Pagliacci is distortedly reflected in this as-near as-can-be namesake by Tonio, the disappointed clown - (it's as well to not this it's the clown, and not the audience, who is disappointed; but that by the way) - waltzing before the curtain, and after declaiming on the moral aspect of stage performances, and the other one of stage performers, he orders it to be rung up, which brings to the front the stage-manager, who promptly terminates the presumptuous pro's pro-loguequacity by pressing him to mind his own business and not interfere with his.
'Then the curtain, rising to the occasion in turn, discloses a country public-house, a theatre on wheels - one of the sort that goes in for long runs - and the Crystal Palace with a far-away expression about it.
'Tonio and Canio - who might be said to be out playing the parts of walking gentlemen, only that they happen to be riding - now canter in on an extraheehawdinary looking pony of the super gee-rusalem breed, and are greeted by the chanting - and also enchanting - villagers with chorus-cations of vocal welcoming.
'Then Canio's more or less better-half, Nedda, and her attendant johnnies, sweeps in on board a four-in-hand - a Nedda-fying spectacle, particularly when Mrs. Canio's favourite johnny prances up to the lady's spouse, and invites him to join him in a glass, which he does without waste of time.
'After industriously sampling Boniface's trade stock [i.e. beer] - although no doubt any spirit suits him when the ghost isn't walking - Canio returns, as full as can reasonably be expected, to see the partner of his joys and Silvio - or rather two partners of his joys and two Silvios - scampering away as if they had a wild cat after them.
'Not being actually too full for utterance, even under these affecting circumstances, he starts off Tonio to bring them back. And this feat having been accomplished, he proves himself to be not such a clown as he looks, by according his wife full permission to elope, provided that she first plays at his benefit, and that her lover pays him alimony. This being agreed to, he promises to take the necessary steps for a divorce, and then the performance for Canio's benefit is got under way in the theatre on wheels.
'It doesn't go fast enough, however, for the impatient Silvio, who presently yelps to Nedda, from his seat in the auditorium, that it's time to catch their train. Whereupon she hops over the floats to him, pursued by her ruffled hubby, howling for his alimony, and being jeeringly invited by the elopers to sue them for it. As a parting shot he fires the citation after them, to be read in the train, and - double curtain.
'The book bristles with Brookfieldian snacks - which differ from the comestible kind in that they are generally nasty snacks instead of nice ones - and is smartly set by Mr. James Glover, who has rather cleverly conjured with the various popular airs of the day.
'Amusingly comic are Messrs. Edward Lewis and William Morgan, as Canio and Tonio respectively. Miss Juliette Nesville is a piquant and dainty Nedda, and Miss Billy Barlow is appropriately boisterous as Silvio. The numerous smaller parts are all well filled, and the ensemble is excellent.
'Since its first production A Pal o'Archie's has been curtailed. but it doesn't follow that the concocters love their Pal o'Archie's less because they've cut him. Quite the contrary. It was too long, and so they made short work of if; and being now more short than it was, it is necessarily crisper.'
('Stagery,' Funny Folks, London, Saturday, 5 August 1893, p. 86)

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© John Culme, 2008