Constance Collier and Herbert Beerbohm Tree in Oliver Twist, His Majesty’s Theatre, London, 1905

October 1, 2013

Constance Collier (1878-1955), English actress, and Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1852-1917), English actor manager, as they appeared as Nancy and Fagin in Tree’s production of Oliver Twist, adapted from Charles Dickens’s novel by Comyns Carr and first presented at His Majesty’s Theatre, London, on 10 July 1905.
(photo: F.W. Burford, London, 1905; postcard no. 354.G published by J. Beagles & Co, London, 1905)

‘Mr. Tree has been as good as his word. Saying good-bye for the summer on July 10 [1905], he expressed his satisfaction with the launch of Oliver Twist, and promised a prolonged revival for September 4. On that evening the favourable verdict of the former first-night tribunal was not only confirmed, but it is said that the reception beats all records of His Majesty’s Theatre. In our issue of July 16 the artistic merits of the case have been fully discussed, and while due praise was given to the adapter for his skill, a note of protest was sounded against the very painful and over-emphasised scene of Nancy’s murder and the prominence given to the character of Fagin. I see that in other papers some critics and some voices from the public have joined chorus in the objection to the murder episode, and it is to be hoped that something will be done to tone down the gruesome effect. Whether Oliver Twist be a good play or not, it is bound to attract all who have read and still love their Dickens, and for this reason in particular it would be desirable not to dwell upon the gruesome side of the story. Under all circumstances there is enough of the sensational in the play, and some consideration should be shown to the nerves of the weaker sex. With Mr. Tree in his versatile performance of Fagin, and the remarkable impersonations of Miss Constance Collier as Nancy and Mr. Lyn Harding as Bill Sykes, the acting alone is well worth a visit to the theatre… .
(J.T. Grein, Sunday Times, London, Sunday, 10 September 1905, p. 2c)

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