Publication: The Times

Full Citation

  • Title English Opera-House.
  • Publication Title The Times
  • Collection The Times Digital Archive, 1785-2008
  • Date Tuesday,  July 29, 1823
  • Issue Number 11936
  • Page Number 3
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Review
  • Publication Section Arts and Sports
  • Source Library Times Newspapers Limited
  • Copyright Statement © Times Newspapers Limited.
- EBAGLISH_OPERA-HOUSP. A new three-act drama,under tEhe title of " Prcumption !" taken from hlrs. Shelley's novel of Frainkensteii, dame out last night at the Lycenzrv Theatre, The root of the story is this, both in the novel and in the play_-Frankenstein, one of those persons who in former days passed for philosophers, and who now are carried, when they appear, before the Lord Chancellor as lunatics, discovers, or fancies that he discovers, the vivifying principle. He thereupon constructs a statue of what he means to be unparalleled beauty-taking the shoulder from one model, the arm from another, the face from a third, and the body from a fourth; but no sooner is the figure animated than these features, (singly) so perfect. become hideous from their discrepancy taken as a wehole. Then the iirst act of the new man Ls to rebel against his creator; he uses the imnmense strengEh with which he is endowed for every conceivable purpose of violence ar,d evil; and, selecting his benefactor for the peculiar object of his aversion, after carrying destruction through gis family, he concludes byUtaing away his life. The principle here inculcated, as far as any principle belongs to such matters, is the same with thgt set up in Mr. Godwin's St. Leon. We forget the details of MIrs. Sheley's tale; those of the piece under our hand are very clumsy indeed. WVe see the alchymist busv up to the moment of projection (he completes his work in a laboratory, the inside of which is not shown to the audience,) and the only idea coming even witbin poetic reasonableness would be that some demon animates the statue to punish the impious pride of the magician. But there is nothing to sustain such a notion,-nothing indeed consistent enough tosustain anyhypothesisabout AIr. Arr.old'smonster. Itbursts on to thestagefiveminutes afterits birth, atallight blue figure, with awhite face and long black hair ! frightens Mr. F'rankenstin out of his wits snaps his steel sword into pieces like glass; and having come on amin fire and flame, goes of t(as well as we could see) up the chimne ! The freaks of this being (the only character in the piece) are still more incongruous. and absurd in the sequel. One moment he is a monster delighting only in blood; the next a " lubber fiend," and then even beneficent spirit. He sets flre to houses, plays with blind men, stabs ladies, scares children, and burns his own fingers ! At length, when this gentleman has done much mischief and more foolery, and every body begins to wonder how he is to be disposed of in the end, the author gets rid of him by a stratagem, to say the least of it, original. Being pursued by Frankenstcini, whose wife he har murdered-and who, as he brought him into the world, feels bound in honour to put him out of it-he is overtaken, and they fight under one of the Glaciers of Savoy. Frankenstein in the strnsggle is thrown upon the ground; lie draws a pistol from his belt and fires at his adversary; the report of the pistol shakes down an avalanrhc and, under a heap of snow (canvass), the combatantsare both buried together! In a cold summer like this! Our very ink freezes at such a catastrophe !-The above incidents, in themselves not remarkably vigorous, are overlaid with a long story about a family called De Lacy, a heap of indifferent music, and a good deal of namby-pamby acting. Mr. Cooke threw some energetic pantomimic acting into thc character of the Alonster ; but Franikenstein had little opportunity. kr. Pearman was pleasing in some of his lomsertones, as he generally can be when he will avoid singing bravaras; but the music, except an occasional symphony, was dull; there were at least thirteen movements whicb we have heard in every melo-drania for the last five-and-twenty years-not to speak cf their occasional performancein operas,overtures,and between the acts. The piece upon the whole has little to recommend it ; but that., as times go, will be no great obstacle to its success. The galleries,whbn the curtain fl, called loudly to: Mr. T. P. Cooke; and a demon's giving out the play wouldl have been as new an incident as the avalanr.he. Two such novelties, howpever, in one evening would h ave been excessive; and Mr. Bartley announced the piece for repetition with prettg general approbation.