The 1826-1827 Season

By Alfrida Lee

The season opened on 7 October 1826, again under the management of Terry and Yates. The Times of 9 October reports, "The house appears to have been either vigorously scoured or fresh gilded. It is extremely clean and neat ... The house is very warm." A new act drop had been painted by Charles Tomkins, who was a talented acquisition by the scenery department. The dancing in the ballet is commended, being "of a higher standard than has usually been given in minor theatres." The whole entertainment appeared to give satisfaction to a crowded house.

Two performers, highly praised in the previous season, are noted for their experience elsewhere during the summer: T. P. Cooke, "whose fame acquired as Tom Coffin in Paris seems to have added new attraction," and John Reeve, "who comes with increased strength after his success at the Haymarket." A newcomer to the Adelphi Theatre, Mrs. Hughes, is described as "a pleasant available actress." She appears to have been an asset to the company, appearing in various roles. A duet by her and Salter was encored in a performance of Luke the Labourer in October (the Wasp, 27 October 1826), although the piece as a whole received adverse criticism, chiefly on moral grounds. The audience was made to sympathize with Luke, who had been dismissed for habitual drunkenness. Luke's wife dies of starvation (surely a cause for sympathy) and Luke has revenge on his former master. The moral judgment is made because the disaster really results from Luke's drinking habits. The performance had merit. The acting on the whole was excellent and the music "pretty." The critic concludes, "We have no doubt it will run the season." The piece was performed nightly with a break of nine nights until 2 December, one week later in December and again at intervals during March, 1827, and the first week of April, being one of the last night items. It was taken off on 13 November "owing to the indisposition of T. P. Cooke," whose presence was evidently essential to the success of the piece, and resumed on 23 November, "T. P. Cooke having recovered ... from his serious indisposition."

The Times reviewed the pantomime, Harlequin and the Eagle, on 27 December 1826. The criticism is worth quoting in full as it contrasts sharply and very favourably with the one accorded to Three Golden Lamps in the previous season.

Last night, a pantomime founded on the popular Irish story of Daniel O'Rourke's Journey to the Moon was performed at this theatre with the most perfect success. Considering the complexity of the machinery in entertainments of this nature, the tricks and changes were well conceived and managed with great facility. One of the most entertaining of these was the sudden appearance of Pantaloon in the middle of the pit at a time when he was supposed to be quietly seated in a chair preparatory to his being shaved. Paulo, as the Clown, distinguished himself particularly and Kirby, the Harlequin, and Miss Daly, the Columbine, performed some pretty dances. At one period there was so loud a call on Kirby for the hornpipe that he was obliged, in order to escape the displeasure of the audience, to come forward and dance the sailor's hornpipe. The scenery was very creditably executed, especially a view of the old and new London Bridge, and the pantomime promises, if we may judge from its reception at its first representation, to be a favourite.

At the same time, Drury Lane presented The Man in the Moon. The Times gives an interesting comment on the piece in relation to the Adelphi. Under the title "Behind the Curtain" and signed "The Opera Glass" is the following:

It is said, how truly we know not, that last year the subject of the pantomime to be performed at the Adelphi was given to Drury Lane, and by them rejected with some impertinence. If rejected at all, we should hope the latter part were incorrect. But when it was known, through some of those channels by means of which the best guarded secrets sometimes escape, that the Adelphi was getting up a pantomime on the subject, the Drury Lane people immediately took up the rejected subject, the manuscript of which they had never returned, and set it up as a rival. If these circumstances be exact, it is, to say the least of it, but shabby conduct.

The criticism that followed stated that the piece lacked "a well-conducted plot." Harlequin was only moderate, and Miss Barnett's Columbine, "a poor effort." There were "many clever scenes, ingenious tricks and transformations ... exquisite scenery and many pointed jokes." The pantomime was well received. The comparison with Harlequin and the Eagle is interesting.

The audiences at the Adelphi, as in the previous season, had at least one lapse from good conduct. Theatrical Observer of 13 February 1827, gives an account of a fight in the pit during a performance of The Pirate's Doom.

The regular season ended on 7 April; Yates' Entertainment, which began with Portraits and Sketches followed by Mr. Chairman, (later replaced by Stop Thief), was given on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent and continued until 12 May. On the bill for 7 May, he explained the necessity of "curtailing his successful season" as alterations adjoining the theatre were to be commenced and would block the entrance.

© Copyright 1988 by Alfred L. Nelson and Gilbert B. Cross

Thank you for visiting this site. If you wish to contact the various Editors, please visit the Editor's Home Pages.