by Jury > TheGraphic First Night Review
From year to year the custom of producing new pieces on Easter Monday has been steadily diminishing, not because there is any less activity in theatrical enterprise, but simply because first night performances have come to be regarded with more respect than they used to be. It is a serious thing for actors and managers, and still more serious for dramatic authors, to submit a new play for the first time to the judgment of an audience. Very slight accidents sometimes bring about disaster on such occasions, and no author who has any respect for himself or his art would like to have the merits of his piece judged by excited holiday makers, who, though thoroughly hearty playgoers, ready to be pleased and to applaud, are always a little boisterous. Hence it is that while theatres display increasing signs of vitality at Easter new burlesques and Easter pieces are now brought out at a little in advance of that season.
Thus the ROYALTY produced last week a very original and amusing little piece by Mr. Gilbert, entitled Trial by Jury, wherein the whole proceedings of a court of law engaged in trying a case of breach of promise of marriage are ingeniously converted into rhymed verse, in operatic fashion, and sung to music composed by Mr. Arthur Sullivan in the genuine spirit of humour of the work.
There is not only originality and abundant drollery in this "dramatic cantata," but a vein of satire which is highly diverting. One of the modes of developing this is to represent both judge and jury as naïvely frank in exhibiting their susceptibilities to the charms of a fair plaintiff in bridal attire, not to speak of fair bridesmaids who form her train, while their gallant prejudices against the defendant, who in vain endeavours to fortify his eloquence by the notes of a guitar, are displayed with an openness no less amusing.
Still more humorous is the notion of inspiring the judge with a sudden fancy for sketching his own career from utter brieflessness to the Bench by paying court to a rich attorney's daughter, who
and subsequently jilting this long-suffering damsel. As a parody of serious opera the little piece is highly amusing, and its humour is throughout spontaneous and novel. It is very well performed by Miss Nelly Bromley, Mr. Walter Fisher, Mr. Frederick Sullivan, and Mr. Hollingsworth, who sing the solos and choruses with excellent effect.
The difficulties in the way of an amicable settlement of the case are at last rendered unimportant by the learned judge descending from the Bench, and offering himself as a suitor for the hand of Miss Nellie Bromley, and this proposal being at once accepted, the piece concludes with a concerted piece, while two plaster Cupids in bar wigs are perceived to hover over the scene, and red fire burning at the wings adds a final touch of humorous absurdity in perfect keeping with the spirit of the piece.
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