Pick of Punch 7. This area of the blog offers a selection of entertaining quotes from Punch magazine. The following is from 20th January 1866, and shows how theatrical advertising could sometimes bend the truth a little!
In theatrical matters now-a-days there is no such thing as failure. The public has lost its powers of discrimination and appreciation, and newspaper criticism is reduced to a mere quarter of a column of printed words, valuable only on account of the heading to the paragraph which serves the theatre in lieu of an advertisement. “On such and such a day,” for instance, we read, under the title of the Royal Dash Theatre, “was produced a new drama, entitled The Son of the Forest. What could have induced the management to bring such a piece before the public, we are quite at a loss to imagine. Its situations are hackneyed, and the interest, such as it is, is sustained only up to the third act, to be dropped entirely in the fourth and fifth.”
Another Newspaper. — “The name of the piece produced at this house last night, is The Son of the Forest. It requires condensation. But even then we fear that it will not prove an attraction. The dialogue is dull, and the dramatis persona are on so dead a level as to awaken no sort of interest in their actions, on the part of the audience. We are bound to say that the piece was well received by a house densely crowded in every part.”
Another Newspaper.— “It is not often that we have to record a failure at this admirably-managed theatre. The Son of the Forest, however, we must candidly own, is not a success. It is certainly the least happy of Mr. Reshoffay’s productions. We must enter our emphatic protest against the immoral character of the play. We are not squeamish, but when an author so far goes out of his way as to notice with laudatory remarks the elopement of his heroine’s grandmother with the hero of his story, we feel that silence is no longer consistent with our duty.”
Another Newspaper. — “The Son of the Forest, Mr. Reshoffay’s new (?) drama, was produced here last night. To what a depth of degradation has our stage fallen! The actors and actresses did their best with the most thankless parts, and saved the piece from the condemnation it richly merited.”
After all this out come the advertisements :—
ROYAL DASH THEATRE.— Another Genuine Hit! A Brilliant Success!! The new Drama, The Son of the Forest, pronounced by the unanimous voice of the Public Press to be the Greatest Dramatic Triumph ever witnessed on these or any other boards. Three more Bows of Stalls added. Seats can be booked two months in advance.