A LONDON ACTRESS (Arts Theatre) THERE is a story of an Irish bard
ster of the school that went with good wine, fancy waistcoats, snuff, love of the classics and unrepentant and virtuous nationalism; he went to the theatre to see a melodrama.
The plot of the play was original in the precise meaning of the word. The villain wore riding breeches, had a black moustache that lay on his upper lip like a sleeping rat, and he carried a cane. The hero was noble, handsome and a fool, the heroine virtuous in gingham, poverty-stricken and blondely vacuous. Through four acts, for this was in the days of marathon theatre, the rogue ;aged at the unhappy, loving pair. The audience smoked cigars or sucked oranges, enthralled beyond words. silent, hypnotised. At last Jasper had the lovers, to coin a phrase. in his clutches. He foreclosed the mortgage and the lady, Nellie, dashed to the footlights wringing pale hands and crying out: "What shall I do? What shall I do?"
Our barrister, enraptured by her beauty and torn by her distress, roared from the front row of the stalls : "Plead that the document was improperly signed in the first place, rn' darlin!"
'THE old • melodramas had some" thing; perhaps it was because they Tacked subtlety, because Good and Evil were presented without complications of light and shade. They corn
By W. J. IGOE mended the mind. One knew whose side one was, as they say, on. In a way it was rather like a football match in a certain part of Glasgow, a great drama of love and hatred reduced to the most simple terms.
A London Actress is like that but for one truly originat note. The villain is a woman, but no lady. Through many scenes she kills with the knife, traps virtuous men into marriage for their money, ruins a young redcoat and has him falsely accused of murder and nearly hanged, plots to have his sister sent to prison for theft. She is, in a word, a Jill-of-allcrimes. She wears long sweeping black cloaks and eyelashes and scarlet frocks and glories in her wickedness. And she comes, eventually, to a sticky end.
'"HE Arts Theatre presents A Lon-L don Actress as a holiday joke and it is a delightful joke, coaxing the hissing and booing that the normally good-humoured Mr. Littler seems to fear. It becomes something of a Christmas party, with the actors enjoying the cheering of the good and jeering Of the naughty as much as the audience take pleasure in the admirable work of Miss Joan Haythorne, Mr. Alan McNaughton, Mr. Tom Gill, Mr. Peter Copley. Mr. Edward Byrne and a splendid cast. I enjoyed A London Actress and lecommend it to any reader in search of gay and unusual entertainment, and to students of the theatre who find pleasure in period pieces.