[Advert for That Doctor Cupid and Angelina! from The Times (9 May, 1889).]
The Times (10 May, 1889 - p.8)
Under the title of Angelina Mr. Thomas Thorne and his company essayed at the Vaudeville yesterday an adaptation from the French which is probably destined to take the place of That Doctor Cupid in the evening bill. The work from which the new piece has been derived is Une Mission Délicate, by M. Alexandre Bisson, a comedy of the extravagant order with which the name of the principal author of Les Surprises du Divorce is agreeably associated. For the time being, popular taste does not run in the direction of French adaptations, but Angelina, as rendered into English by Mr. W. Cooper, is unobjectionable enough, and indeed bears few traces of its Gallic origin. A hot-tempered Irish major, having gone abroad on active service, has left his young wife under the care of two of his friends, a retired perfumer and a stockbroker, whose mission it is to “amuse her.” In pursuance of his instructions the perfumer is engaged in treating the lady to a champagne supper at 2 in the morning when the major unexpectedly returns, and as that gallant officer has been reported dead his locum tenens makes his escape in a state of alarm to a cry of “Stop thief,” leaving his hat behind as an incriminating piece of evidence against him. The major is naturally of opinion that the “mission” has been carried a little too far, and in order to punish his false friend he places the affair in the hands of the police as a case of attempted burglary. All this has passed before the rising of the curtain, the action being concerned merely with the results of the perfumer’s indiscretion. These at once assume a serious aspect. The stockbroker having gone to recover his friend’s hat is pounced upon by the police, and in self-defence he has to place the guilt upon the right shoulders. Thus the major has the satisfaction of carrying the war into the enemy’s territory; and as further complications are evolved by his urging his nephew to make love to the perfumer’s wife by way of reprisal, the fun soon reaches the high-pressure point demanded by the public of the Palais Royal and the Variétés. Eventually, of course, a satisfactory understanding is arrived at, not too soon, for the leading idea of the piece is unquestionably somewhat thin and readily exhausted. From the parts of the perfumer, the stockbroker, and the Irish major Mr. Thomas Thorne, Mr. Gilbert Farquhar, and Mr. Fred. Thorne extract a considerable amount of humour; but the most amusing piece of characterization is given incidentally by Mr. Cyril Maude as a youthful philosopher who has a keen eye for his material interests in a world which he declares is so soon to pass into nothingness. It is hardly fair of the adapter to ascribe the absurd transcendental sentiments of this character to Mr. Herbert Spencer; he might so far consult the intelligence of his audience as to lay the responsibility of them upon certain writers of the German school. The piece was well received, although the verdict of a matinée audience is no sure test of popularity.
The Morning Post (10 May, 1889 - p.5)
“Angelina,” an adaptation, by Mr. W. Cooper, from M. Bisson’s farcical piece, “Une Mission Délicate,” was so favourably received yesterday afternoon as to afford the expectation that it will figure as the leading item of Mr. Thomas Thorne’s evening bill whenever the popularity of “That Doctor Cupid” becomes exhausted. If not remarkable for dramatic strength, or for the bustle characteristic of modern comicalities, “Angelina” displays in a striking manner the peculiar artistic skill of Mr. Thomas Thorne and the support rendered him by the chief members of the Vaudeville Company. M. Bisson’s three-act absurdity was first seen at the Renaissance, in Paris, in January, 1886, when MM. Saint-Germain, Vois, and Delaunoy appeared in the characters now respectively played by Messrs. Thomas and Frederick Thorne and Gilbert Farquhar. Naturally, the present adapter has been compelled to make a few changes in the action, but these do not materially affect either the position of the principal or his punishment for having so sedulously watched over the fair Angelina, whilst her husband, the elderly Major O’Gallagher is with his regiment in Africa. Mr. Alfred Gadabout has certainly been entrusted with a most “delicate mission,” and has not been discreet in its execution. His growing admiration of Angelina is checked when the unexpected return of the impulsive, loud-voiced Hibernian son of Mars compels the guardian to hurriedly depart from the house, and is altogether destroyed when Mrs. Gadabout—a lady who is not to be trifled with—pays him back in his own coin by pretending to be impressed with the protestations of affection made by the handsome Hector O’Gallagher in obedience to the instructions of the revengeful Major. As represented by Mr. Thomas Thorne, the penitent Mr. Gadabout, who is at last moved to a frenzied desire to engage in mortal combat with anybody willing to accept his challenge, is never likely to be again justly suspected of neglecting his home or of making his club the excuse for staying out until daybreak. Besides giving Gadabout the drollest appearance, Mr. Thorn offers a ludicrous realisation of the shame and terror experienced by the culprit when he learns that his wife knows all. At future performances this able comedian will probably do yet more than he accomplished yesterday with a character in every way suited to him. Mr. Cyril Maude was also highly successful in an eccentric part, and Mr. Fred Thorne was appropriately gusty as the violent Major. Mr. Gilbert Farquhar showed his accustomed judgment as Harkaway Spangle, a middle-aged easy-going bachelor, who, much against his inclination, is entangled in Gadabout’s ineffectual scheme to baffle discovery. Miss Gladys Homfreys and Mr. Frank Gilllmore also rendered good service to a performance that throughout elicited hearty laughter and applause.
The Standard (10 May, 1889 - p.2)
At a matinée yesterday a piece called Angelina, adapted by Mr. W. Cooper from M. Bisson’s Une Mission Délicate, was produced, with a view, it was understood, to transference to the evening programme, should its reception seem to warrant such a course. The question is one which the manager will find some difficulty in deciding. Angelina is a farcical comedy, containing some very amusing scenes, but the story is slight, and rather loosely put together, so that whether it would be permanently attractive is a little problematical, though it was very well received yesterday afternoon. Angelina, who gives a name to the piece, has been secretly married to Major O’Gallagher, who, before leaving England on foreign service, confides her to the charge of two friends, Mr. Spangle, a stockbroker and a bachelor, and Mr. Alfred Gadabout, a retired hairdresser, husband of a wife of the most military tendencies, given to drilling her household and teaching the use of the sword. A report of the Major’s death reaches England, and the two friends proceed to console the widow. Mr. Gadabout’s consolation takes the form of supping with her after a masked ball, at which he has been her escort; and, while so engaged, the Major’s voice is heard outside the door. Gadabout flies, leaving his hat behind him, and this leads to the arrest—first of Spangle, who goes to recover the missing headgear for his friend, and then of the real owner, while O’Gallagher’s furious jealousy is not unnaturally roused. Mr. Thorne gives a very diverting representation of the perplexities of Gadabout, terrified lest his wife should discover his mission of consoling Angelina (for she knows nothing of the Major’s marriage), alarmed at O’Gallagher’s fire-eating propensities, and apprehensive of arrest, there having been near Angelina’s residence an attempted burglary, of which the owner of the hat is suspected. The incident of Gadabout’s arrest by a detective, who, after dining with the supposed criminal at his house, causes him to be carried off by a couple of policemen, is too absurd even for farcical comedy; but Mr. Thorne plays capitally in the last act, where Gadabout finds his way to Spangle’s rooms and makes himself at home, disregarding the indignation of the proprietor. The sketch is, indeed, altogether well carried out. Mr. Gilbert Farquhar gives character and consistency to the performance of Spangle, and a remarkably clever, fresh, and well-sustained study of a philosophical youth who devotes his mind to Mr. Herbert Spencer’s books, and regards his fellow-creatures as phenomena, is furnished by Mr. Cyril Maude, a young comedian who increases his reputation with every fresh part he plays. Mr. F. Thorne has necessarily to follow a beaten track as Major O’Gallagher. These irascible officers are familiar stage figures, but the actor displays much spirit and vigour. Mr. Frank Gilmore, as the Major’s nephew, who is forced by his uncle to the uncongenial task of making love to Mrs. Gadabout, is a little wanting in ease and lightness of touch. Miss Gladys Homfreys bears herself well as the soldierlike Mrs. Gadabout, and the daughter Cicely is very prettily played by Miss Ella Banister. There was considerable applause at the fall of the curtain.
Daily News (11 May, 1889)
When a leading personage in a new farcical comedy is found to bear the name of “Gadabout,” the experienced playgoer can hardly fail to divine how matters stand. Mr. W. Cooper’s adaptation of “Une Mission Délicate,” produced at the Vaudeville on Thursday afternoon with the title of “Angelina,” is in fact another variation upon the theme of the roving husband; but in this instance, it must be confessed that there is a good deal of novelty in the treatment. Mr. Alfred Gadabout, retired perfumer, in spite of his name, is no idle profligate; neither is his old bachelor friend, Harkaway Spangle, of the Stock Exchange; but they have each been inspired with a tender interest in the mysterious Angelina. By an unhappy fatality a fire-eating Irish Major suddenly called abroad on military duties, had insisted on entrusting to these twain the mission délicate of looking after the welfare of a lady to whom he had been privately married. As the Major is some time afterwards reported to be killed, what wonder that these susceptible persons are touched by the romance of the young widow’s story? Gadabout is heard by his wife, a lady of commanding presence and masculine habits, muttering in his dreams the name Angelina. Harkaway actually proposes to the widow and is rejected; and Gadabout is enjoying a little supper tète-à-tète with the same fascinating person when, behold! the fire-eating Irish Major reappears, and here begins the action of the play. The fun of what follows arises partly from the eccentric whim of the major for punishing the supposed perfidy of his friend Gadabout, by instigating a young nephew to make violent love to Mrs. Gadabout, and partly from the scrapes in which both Spangle and his friend are involved through the good-natured efforts of the former to recover a hat which Gadabout had incautiously left at Angelina’s lodgings. All this involves, no doubt, much that is conventional; but there is an abundance of droll situations, which probably only demand a little more briskness of movement and abandonment to the farcical spirit of the piece to secure for “Angelina” as signal a success as was achieved by M. Bisson’s play when brought out at the Renaissance three years ago. Mr. Thomas Thorne plays the part of Gadabout with a serious earnestness and a frequent alternation of fierce defiance and ludicrous distress which are highly diverting, and though Mr. Gilbert Farquhar’s middle-aged beaux are apt to be of a rather stiff, narrow type, a good deal of merriment is aroused by Spangle’s tendency to vent his vexations on his unhappy friend even to the extent of joining forces with his furious enemy. The moderation which the adaptor has deemed it proper to impart to the love- making scene between Mrs. Gadabout and the Major’s nephew, Hector, was probably the reason why Miss Gladys Homfreys and Mr. Frank Gillmore were a little disappointing in this much talked-of passage. Mr. Fred Thorne, after his wont, gives a strong humorous colouring to the part of the Major, and the young heroine Cicely was prettily played by Miss Ella Bannister. Decidedly the freshest and not the least amusing character in the play was that of the priggishly pedantic Charles Spangle, who, like Mr. Balfour, is nothing if not philosophical, and who airs his moral and metaphysical theories at all convenient and inconvenient times. In this comical part Mr. Cyril Maude once more proved himself a thorough artist with a considerable power of humorous characterisation. We may here note that Angelina, represented by Miss Lillie Hanbury, the direful spring of Mr. Gadabout’s woes, remains invisible till the last of the three acts, and has little or no share in the action. The comedy was brought to a close with every token of success. We are requested to state that “Angelina” will be given again by the original cast on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, the 15th and 18th inst.
The Era (11 May, 1889)
A Play, in Three Acts, Adapted by W. Cooper
from Alexandre Bisson’s Comedy “Une Mission Délicate,”
Played for the First Time at the Vaudeville Theatre
on Thursday Afternoon, May 9th, 1889.
Mr Alfred Gadabout . . . . . . . . . Mr THOMAS THORNE
Mr Harkaway Spangle . . . . . . . Mr GILBERT FARQUHAR
Charles Spangle . . . . . . . . . . . . Mr CYRIL MAUDE
Major O’Gallagher . . . . . . . . . . Mr FRED. THORNE
Hector O’Gallagher . . . . . . . . . Mr FRANK GILLMORE
Batt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mr F. GROVE
Mrs Gadabout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Miss GLADYS HOMFREY
Miss Cicely Gadabout . . . . . . . . Miss ELLA BANISTER
Nancy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Miss FLORENCE BRIGHT
Angelina . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Miss LILLIE HANBURY
M. Bisson’s three-act comedy Une Mission Délicate, which has been adapted by Mr. W. Cooper under the title Angelina! and was seen in its English form at a matinée at the Vaudeville Theatre on Thursday afternoon, was produced at the Renaissance Theatre, Paris, on Jan. 8th, 1886, when it met with considerable favour. Mr W. Cooper has followed his original pretty closely. The French captain who goes to Algeria and leaves his mistress in the care of his two friends is replaced by an Irish major who is secretly married; but otherwise the adaptor has retained most of the materials, and, it may be added, much of the disconnectedness and dubious flavour of M. Bisson’s piece; and the latter drawback detracts somewhat from the pleasure given by some of the really funny situations. We are made tolerably certain, to start with, that the intent which has led Mr Alfred Gadabout to sup at two o’clock in the morning on oysters and champagne with Mrs Major O’Gallagher, otherwise Angelina, is not an entirely innocent one; and the Major’s plan to revenge himself upon his false friend by setting on his somewhat too subservient nephew to make love to Mrs Gadabout is essentially “French.” Mr Gadabout is a retired perfumer, and, being a little man, is severely henpecked by his wife, a majestic woman of formidable proportions and muscular development. The Major’s marriage is a profound secret to all but Gadabout and O’Gallagher’s other friend, Harkaway Spangle; and the Major being reported to have been killed abroad, the little hairdresser does his best to console the disconsolate widow, and divert her mind from thoughts of her loss. But the Major has not been killed after all, and, turning up suddenly and unexpectedly at his own house in the small hours, so frightens Gadabout, who is supping with Angelina, that he rushes downstairs wildly and escapes, leaving his hat behind him. The Major first suspects Spangle of being the intruder, but finally discovers that Gadabout is the culprit, and sets the police on his track, suggesting that burglary was the trespasser’s aim in being on the premises. The Major completes his revenge by ordering his nephew and expectant heir, Hector, who is enamoured of Cicely, Gadabout’s daughter, to make love to and run away with Mrs. G., and thus ruin Gadabout’s peace of mind. The nephew consents unwillingly, trusting to Mrs Gadabout’s insensibility to render his suit null and void; but she informs the young man that “she is a woman of action,” and that, if she had only detected her husband in the smallest infidelity she would fly with him (Hector) immediately. On hearing this, the Major comes out with the story about Gadabout and Angelina, and the second act ends with Mrs Gadabout’s indignation, Cicely’s astonishment, and the hairdresser’s removal to prison by the police. The third act needs but brief description; indeed, the real action of the piece practically terminates at the end of its second section. Mrs Gadabout thinks better of her intention of running away with Hector, explanations take place all round, and Gadabout’s display of jealous pugnacity persuades his wife to pardon his indiscretion. Cicely’s hand is given to Hector; Spangle’s nephew, Charles, an amusing individual who is steeped in philosophical literature, and expresses himself on all subjects in the style of the abstruser German philosophers, retiring from the field dismayed by the scandals and disturbances which have taken place in the family which he had intended to enter.
Mr Thomas Thorne was intensely quaint and oddly funny as Mr Alfred Gadabout, his appearance after taking a bath subsequent to his return from the lock-up being excruciatingly grotesque, and his acting throughout most amusing. Mr Gilbert Farquhar’s Harkaway Spangle was as easy and natural as it was polished and well studied. Mr Cyril Maude distinguished himself by a really clever and never overdrawn bit of character acting as the eccentric student of philosophy; and Mr Fred. Thorne’s Irish Major was as peppery and pugnacious as could be desired. Mr Frank Gillmore was easy, gentlemanlike, and self-possessed as Hector O’Gallagher; and Mr F. Grove played Butt, a detective, neatly and well. Miss Gladys Homfrey was personally and histrionically exactly suited to the part of Mrs Gadabout; and Miss Ella Banister was simple and unobtrusive as Cicely. Miss Florence Bright made a smart and brisk maid servant, and Miss Lillie Hanbury spoke her lines as Angelina with ease and distinctness. There is much that is laughable in Angelina! but it is decidedly weak in places, and, as we have hinted, the humour is not always of the freshest sort. The adaptation was, however, favourably received, Mr Fred. Thorne coming before the curtain and announcing that the “author” was not in the house.
The Sheffield Daily Telegraph (11 May 1889 - p.5)
It is doubtful whether the new farcical comedy produced at the Vaudeville yesterday afternoon is strong enough—sufficiently solid and full of vitality—to suit the taste of the ordinary evening audience. It is an adaptation, called “Angelina,” of M. Bisson’s piece, “Une Mission Delicate.” The English author has no doubt done his best to transfer the story to English soil, and to suit English actors, but he has not been very successful therein. The action, as he represents it, is thoroughly Gallic, not English. British husbands are not in the habit of going away for long periods, and leaving their wives to the care of notorious scamps; nor are even British grass widows quite so ready to embark in compromising enterprises, as is here suggested. In the original, the “wife” is a good deal less than a wife, and thus the improbabilities of the story are greatly reduced; but that is a state of things which has never yet been presentable on the English stage. Still, the story never halts, and has amusing turns. Mr. Thomas Thorne, Mr. Gilbert Farquhar, Mr. Fred Thorne, and two or three clever ladies were in the cast, but the palm was carried off by Mr. Cyril Maude in a small but effective part, admirably played, and conveying a telling satire on the modern philosophic prig. The author was called for, but did not appear. It was freely whispered that Mr. Robert Buchanan is the adapter, and certainly the “W. Cooper” mentioned on the programme is a personage unknown in theatrical circles.
The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (13 May, 1889 - p.5)
“Angelina” is the title of a new farcical play tried at a Vaudeville matinee. It is avowedly founded on a well-known French piece called “The Delicate Mission.” It requires very skilful handling to dress these Parisian successes in decent English garb without covering up their most attractive features. Whether “Angelina” has been effectually treated in this respect is a matter on which opinion may reasonably differ; but the author has introduced some characters and episodes that are amusing as well as original, and has provided Mr. Thomas Thorne with a rattling good character as “Gadabout,” a rakish husband with a termagant wife. The play bristles with points, and on its repetition this week will doubtless be seen to much better advantage.
Supplement to The York Herald (18 May, 1889 - p.1)
“Angelina,” a new farcical comedy, adapted by “W. Cooper’s” (said to be Robert Buchanan) from Une Mission Delicate by Alexander Bisson, one of the authors of Les Surprises du Divorce (“Mamma”) was produced by Mr. Thomas Thorne at a matinee at the Vaudeville Theatre on the 9th inst. The piece is brightly written, and the plot though slight affords plenty of opportunity for comic acting. Briefly, a fire-eating Irish Major, going abroad, leaves his young wife, to whom he is secretly married, in the care of two old cronies, with the injunction that they should take her about and “amuse her.” Needless to say the trust is faithfully discharged. Anon, the Major is reported dead, but of course turns up at an inopportune moment, and a variety of amusing complications, common to farces from the French, ensues. Eventually, the Major, who has come into a fortune, acknowledges Angelina as his lawful wife; and harmony is restored as quickly as it had been broken. The play was excellently acted. Mr. Thomas Thorne had a part exactly suiting is style as Gadabout, a platonic rake, in mortal dread of his wife, a veritable vixen; and the other old spark Spangle was capitally played by Mr. Gilbert Farquhar. Mr. Frederick Thorne gave a clever character sketch as Major O’Gallagher, and Mr. Cyril Maude made a decided hit as an amateur philosopher and reader of Herbert Spencer, a member of the modern school whose theory is that “the height of human knowledge is attained when we discover that we know nothing.” Miss Gladys Homfrey, Mr. Frank Gillmore, and Miss Ella Bannister, Lillie Hanbury, and Florence Bright all rendered efficient aid in their respective characters. The play was received with evident favour by a large audience, and in consequence of its success, a second matinée was given on Wednesday last, the performance being repeated today. “Angelina” is probably destined to succeed “That Doctor Cupid” in the evening bill, at the conclusion of the run of that amusing comedy, which it may be mentioned, has now been played over 120 times.