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Performed at Drury Lane, London (1827)


The Man in the Moon.

[1827] DRURY-LANE. This theatre has not of late years been celebrated for its pantomimic excellence; but the present manager has brought forward a pantomime that reflects credit on him as a proprietor, and does justice to the performers and artists engaged in it ; and that will no doubt be deservedly popular. It is entitled The Man in the Moon, from the visit of Mr. Speculum Von Dangerfelt (Mr. Yarnold,) the Director of a Joint Stock Travelling Company, to that satellite. The scenery in the Moon by Marinari and Stanfield, is worthy of these distinguished artists.

The piece opens with an excellent view, by Stanfield, of Hudson’s Bay, with a Dutch whaler bedded in the ice. To this inhospitable region has Speculum Von Dangerfelt been wafted. Dangerfelt having plenty of time on hand in these dominions of the Ice-king, takes to the study of astronomy, and soon forms an acquaintance with the Man in the Moon, who speedily transports him to the lunarian regions. He there falls in love with the Princess Lunarda, whose espousal with Prince Sirius has already been decided on. A quarrel ensues, which ends by the Man in the Moon transforming Von Dangerfelt into Pantaloon, Greencheese, King of the Moon, and Fromagettina, Queen of the Moon, into a  pair of clowns, Prince Sirius into Harlequin, and the Princess Lunarda into Columbine. [Could Princess Lunarda’s name be a reference to the pioneer aeronaut, Vincenzo Lunardi?]

The business then commences, and innumerable are the tricks which the hero of the piebald countenance plays on his pursuers— many of them very clever, and some of them clumsy enough. In the course of the pantomime, there are several pleasant hits at some of the prevailing follies of the day.

The laxity of the modern boarding-school system is humorously ridiculed in a scene denominated flirtation, where the whole of the inmates of a fashionable seminary are carried away by various officers, civil, military, and naval, to the utter astonishment of the principals, who are themselves ultimately seized upon, the Clown pouncing with ludicrous amorousness upon the most venerable matron of the party !

A good laugh is raised at the newly-broached mode of travelling through a cylinder, the air of which has been previously exhausted. The Clown and his friends take their departure for Brighton in the cylinder. They reach their destination almost immediately; but the rapidity of the motion is too powerful for the human frame, and all the passengers are cast into the road broken-limbed. [cf. similar state-of-the-art technology.]

Towards the end of the pantomime, dancing on the tight and slack rope, various feats of agility, and the extraordinary performances of the well-known Ramo Samee [sword-swallower], are introduced. The scene is too much crowded. It is impossible, for the eye, at the same moment, to take in so many performances. The scene, too, is, after all, but a make-shift, though a good one; for it has nothing to do with the immediate business of the pantomime. It stands perfectly isolated.

The finest part of the scenery is by Mr. Stanfield. His “Shooting Manor in the Moon” is a very lovely composition, and his “View of the Old Bridge at Lyons” is painted with great truth and spirit. “England’s Pride,” the river Thames, with vessels in motion, is also good; and the Panoramic View [see also this moving panorama] of the battle of Waterloo, which is justly denominated “England’s Glory,” is highly honourable to Mr. Stanfield’s talents. The firing of squibs and Roman Candles did not, however, heighten the effect of the scene. The bouncing of these combustibles were strongly and unpleasantly contrasted with the immovability of the figures on the canvas.

Blanchard, as Pantaloon, exhibited great strength and much agility. The two Clowns of Southby and Usher were amusing. No expense has been spared with respect to scenery and machinery. The former is very beautiful and the latter ingenious; and, almost without exception was wrought with much facility.

The chief fault we have to find with the Man in the Moon is, that which we have for a considerable time past observed in pantomimes generally—the want of a well-conducted plot, in which each scene should be connected with that which preceded and that which followed it;—all tending to one  comic end. This principle is wholly disregarded in the new pantomime. There are many clever scenes, but they would answer just as well in any other pantomime as in that which Mr. W. Barrymore has produced.

The pantomime was received with that high approbation which its ingenious tricks and transformations, its exquisite scenery, and. its many pointed jokes, had a right to command.—(Bell’s.)

Source: “The Monitor”, Sydney NSW, Thursday, 26 July 1827, Page 5
Retrieved from : “Trove” Digitised newspapers, National Library of Australia
Original posting: August 2013
Last updated: September 2013