[The large illuminated initial letter “T” refers to the review of a performance of k at the end of Our Playgoer’s article. The following transcription was created using GIMP and ABBYY software. —  George P. Landow]
Decorated initial T

HE tempestuous reception of Oliver Twist, and the almost unanimous opinion of the London press must long ago have convinced Mr. Toole that the piece is a sad mistake. No good can be done for it by covering the walls of the metropolis with extracts from one of Mr. Charles Dickens’s later prefaces to this ghastly tale. The novel claims to have conferred (and probably did confer) a benefit upon Society, by calling public attention to sundry blots on our civilization. The police reports in daily and weekly papers are supposed, we presume, to exercise the same healthy influence. But a crime described with pen-and-ink and a crime represented by dramatic action differ widely as to the effect they create. It is revolting enough to read the account of Nancy's murder; to see it accomplished, amidst the stage accessories of tremolando music, lowered floats, and the eternal lime-light, is rather too much for the nerves even of a hardened critic. We cannot admit that Mr. Oxenford is to blame for any part of this failure at the Queen’s; ho has been particularly careful in toning down the horror of the narrative. We must suppose that the stage-manager is responsible for the pantomime extravagance of the front scenes; and we fear that Mr. Toole must account for the displeasure expressed at the tediousness of the scene at the police-court. The Dodger’s whistle, characteristic and comic as it may be, was on the first night repeated ad nauseam. In all other respects Mr. Toole’s performance was an artistic representation of a very repulsive subject. Mr. Irving played Bill Sikes cleverly, but with a too melodramatic tendency to “take the stage.” Of Mr. Ryder, as Fagin, we can say nothing that would please that usually conscientious performer. Miss Nelly Moore played fancy with earnestness and great feeling; but she must allow us to condole with her sincerely upon her natural disqualifications for such a charming and refined character. We have omitted the name of Mr. Lionel Brough;—if Mr. Lionel Brough had played a part worthy of his reputation, the omission would have been impossible. The scenery of Oliver Twist is not extraordinary, but the scenic artist was called upon to return thanks for applause.


“Our Playgoer.” Fun 15 (25 April 1868): 79. Online version of a copy in the University of Florida Library.

Last modified 24 May 2014