Aimée Roberts, English variety theatre actress and singer, appears in The Flood, a spectacular melodrama, London Hippodrome, 1906

April 24, 2014

Aimée Roberts (active 1906-1921), English variety theatre actress and singer and dialect comedienne
(photo: unknown, UK, probably 1906)

Aimée Roberts’s first appearance seems to have been as Lucie Gray in The Flood, a spectacular melodrama set in Ripplemere, a picturesque Cumberland village, which was produced at the London Hippodrome on 19 March 1906. The piece, which included an inundation of 300,000 gallons of water, was written by Arthur Shirley, with music by Clarence C. Corri. Other cast members were Hal Forde as Harry Darvill, Bert Gilbert as Wilkins, Cecil Morton York as Zambarro, J. Windham Gulse as Peter Peel and Simeta Marsden as Rosie Tynge, supported by a chorus of huntsmen, show folk, village yokels and a bridal party.

‘Stage realism has gone far in these modern days, but never further than in The Flood, a melodrama now occupying the boards at the London Hippodrome. It secured a signal and well deserved success.
‘The Hippodrome water-shows in the past have been many, but none has equalled in completeness, picturesqueness, and effect Mr. Frank Parker’s latest spectacle. To being with, the setting provided is delightfully pretty and realistic, a lake district village furnishing the scene of Mr. Arthur Shirley’s cleverly-devised little melodrama. A rustic wedding, a crown of bucolic revellers, the village inn, a happy bride and bridegroom, acclaimed by cheering yokels, a breezy ”mine host,” and a scowling villain – these and other familiar elements conjure up pleasant memories. In such company the old playgoer feels young again – or, at any rate, younger.
‘Moreover, the marriage festivities, the hilarious villagers, the rustic dances interrupted by the coming of scarlet-clad huntsmen, and the other well-contrived incidents make a bright and spirited show, while threats and portents of storm serve to create the right melodramatic atmosphere and whet the appetite for the Hippodrome’ newest ”sensation.”
‘After the revels, the deluge. Warnings go forth, rumblings of distant thunder are heard, the purple lights that play upon the rocky heights in the background change to darker hues, the lightning flashes – and then down come the rain. It is no ordinary, everyday rain. It is a torrential, tropical downpour, which sweeps everything – and everybody – before it, and the terrified villagers, whose shrieks are realistically disconcerting, fly for their lives. For the mountain dam has burst, the gentle cascade has become a surging, roaring cataract, and the dreaded flood is spreading destruction in all directions.
‘Down crashes the roof of a pretty cottage, in a twinkling the little bridge over the tarn collapses, trees and dovecotes are submerged, sunflowers and hollyhocks are swept away and, in a scene of admirably-simulated excitement horses and cattle plunge into the swollen waters of the lake, while rescues of drowning women and children add further actuality to the spectacle.
‘Nothing so spirited, vivid, and thrilling as this has been seen before at the Hippodrome, which, indeed, has not only eclipsed its own excellent record, but has evolved a bit of impressive realism which any establishment would find it hard to surpass.’
(The World’s News, Sydney, NSW, Australia, Saturday, 28 April 1906, p. 5c)


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