As Performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden
With a double respect for talents, and for misfortune, these remarks are begun.
The present comedy is written by O’Keeffe, who saw not the traces of his pen as he marked the paper; whose days pass away, uncheered by the sun or any visible object; but whose mind supports with resignation his bitter calamity, and is enlightened by imagination, whilst his eyes are shut in utter darkness.
Were each close imitator of an author’s style punishable by law, like the perpetrator of other wrongs, Mr. O’Keeffe might have been an independent, though not a happy man; for that source of a new kind of mirth, termed by some exquisite nonsense, of which he was the first discoverer, made the town so merry, that, like good wine, he might have sold it at any price; but this rich juice of hilarity, polluted by the false spirit of imitation, at length gave a stupor to those, whom the beverage had before revived; and the pure and the adulterated became distasteful together.
This comedy is the only attempt of the author to produce a drama above opera and farce. His productions, in the latter species of writing, are perfect compositions: nothing of the kind can be superior to his “Agreeable Surprise,” and his “Son-in-Law.” He has a number of other farces of little less attraction; such as “Peeping Tom.”--Another class after that, and each possessing infinite fancy, whim, and novelty. Still success did not follow all his productions: a few years past he wrote very frequently, and sometimes too hastily.
On the first night of representing any of those whimsical dramas, amidst loud peals of laughter at the comic dialogue or incidents, there was generally a most affecting spectacle behind the curtain. O’Keeffe, stone-blind, (not an affliction of birth, but of late years) led by his little son, as a guide, down to the stage-door--to the lock of which he would anxiously place his ear to catch the quickest information how his work was received--and when, unhappily hisses from the audience would sound louder than applause--in strong agitation he would press his hands to each side of his head, as if he had yet one sense too much. Thus he would remain, without sight or hearing, till some unexpected sally of humour in his drama once more put the house in good temper, and they would begin to laugh and applaud;--on which, his son, rapid as lightning, would pull him by the elbow, and cry out, “Now, father, listen again.”
“Wild Oats,” would not disgrace an author of much higher pretensions in dramatic writing than Mr. O’Keeffe. There is great pleasantry throughout the play, many natural touches of simplicity, and some well-written dialogues and sentiments. The plot is interesting, the characters new, or at least in new situations, and the whole forms an evening’s entertainment for an auditor of taste--such a one having at the same time in his memory, certain popular sentences from certain well-known comedies and tragedies: for without intimate acquaintance with all the quotations made use of by the hero of the piece, it must totally lose its effect, and this hero appear like a madman.
Perhaps, no comedy, on a first night, was ever more fortunate in a list of excellent comic actors to represent the characters.
Lewis, in Rover, fervid as usual, seemed so enamoured of his stage exploits, that every spectator forgave him his folly, for the bewitching ardour with which he pursued it.
In Ephraim, the quaker, the spirit moved Munden--as it always does--to act just as he should do.
Quick was on the London stage when this play was first performed, and though Sir George Thunder was by no means a part best suited to his abilities--yet Quick gave comic importance to all he undertook.
Mr. Thomas Blanchard, since dead, played the little part of Sim with wond’rous skill.
Mrs. Pope (once Miss Young) was excellent in Lady Amaranth.
And the silly Jane can never have so good a representative as Mrs. Wells.
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||71 KB|