A collection of historic reviews and articles on Sherlockian theatrical performances from contemporary newspapers.

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In Dahomey  (Paul Laurence Dunbar & Will Marion Cook)
August 15 - ?: Grand Theatre, Hull, England
September 13 - ?: Grand Theatre, Fulham, London, England
October 18 – 23: Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill, London, England

February: Lyceum Theatre, Newport, Wales
September: Royal Opera House, Leicester, England
October 2 - ?: The Marlborough, Holloway, London, England

(Information above on performance dates is derived from newspaper archives and is therefore likely to be incomplete.)


A return visit the remarkable American play, “In Dahomey,” this time to the Grand Theatre, should arouse considerable interest in Hull next week. Many of us will have still a vivid remembrance of this striking piece, with its dashing songs and dances, its wealth of colour, its negro “atmosphere,” and its pungent humour. It need not be said that, coming directly from Shaftesbury-avenue Theatre, the piece will be richly mounted. and that nothing will be lacking to make its presentation in every way complete.

Most of the humour of “In Dahomey” springs from those two droll characters, Rawback Pinkerton and Shylock Homestead. These grotesque negroes will next week be impersonated by two American actors who have won great repute in the part, Messrs Avery and Hart, who have been playing together in different engagements for some years, with the result that they have arrived at a perfect understanding in regard to their stage business. The former, Mr Avery, began his theatrical career at an early age, and at one time appeared in the Black Madame Patti Company which toured America. With Mr Hart he was associated for some time in the production known as “The Dandiest Coon in Dixie.”

Nothing is more striking about “In Dahomey” than its music, the composition of Mr W. Marion Cook, a negro composer, who will conduct the performance next week. Mr Cook has studied music all his life. Especially did he devote himself to the violin, and he was fortunate enough to receive lessons from Joachim himself. Mr Cook has strong views on the influence of music on character. “Music,” says he, “is going to play a great part in the working of the salvation of the negro race.”

Hull Daily Mail, 12 August 1904
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk



There could be no mistaking the success of “In Dahomey” at the Grand Theatre last night. A large audience received the piece with what can with truth be called enthusiasm. We have on a former occasion referred to the remarkable character of “In Dahomey.” Further acquaintance with it but confirms our previously-expressed opinion.

The charm of “In Dahomey” is the freshness of its “flavour.” It is negro humour at first hand, not filtered through burnt cork on a white man's face. The music is negro in its melodic and rhythmic quality. There something strangely bizarre about the wild strains and extraordinary harmonies of Mr W. Marion Cook. Perhaps much of the effect of last night's adequate presentation of the music was due to the fact that Mr Cook himself conducted.

The fun of the piece is as markedly negro as the music. Last night the two comedians, Messrs Dan Hart and Charles Avery, had the house at their mercy, with such unction did they deliver themselves of their fund of jokes. Rareback Pinkerton and Shylock Homestead are as wildly diverting a couple of comedians as the Americans have sent us. Messrs Hart and Avery had only to walk across the stage to set the audience laughing heartily.

Others who help to sustain the merriment are Messrs Hampton ("Hamilton Lightfoot"), F. Douglas ("Dr Straight"), W. Dixon ("Hustling Charlie"), and L. Williams (George Reeder).

There is no conspicuous lady's part in “In Dahomey,” though a large company of ladies are prominent throughout the piece. Their chief function is to sing, and this they do with astonishing effect. The volume and quality of their tone is extraordinary. The concerted numbers in the piece were finely executed last night, while the solos sung by Miss Laura Bowman, Miss Lizzie Avery, and Miss Ada Guignesse were of such a character as well to deserve the hearty applause that rewarded them. Mr Charles White's singing was also one of the successful features of the evening.

Admirers of the cake walk should not fail to see “In Dahomey.” The piece is concluded with a cake walk on a very elaborate scale, and it is impossible not to be struck with the grace and lightness of movement, the variety of the steps, and the abandon thrown into their work by the cake walkers. Cheer after cheer rose last night as the respective couples made their efforts to secure the cake.

Hull Daily Mail, Tuesday 16 August 1904


On Monday, Oct. 2, the Negro Musical Comedy, entitled "IN DAHOMEY."

In Dahomey has been absent from Holloway all too long, for not since February last year, when the piece proved such a potent attraction, has this sprightly company cheered the hearts of pleasure-loving North Londonites. There are many changes in the cast, but the newcomers adequately fill the places of their predecessors.

First and foremost of the cast we remember the Messrs. Williams and Walker, but without in any way discounting their admirable performance most give honour where honour is due, and Messrs. Avery and Hart deserve full recognition for the untiring manner in which they undertake their respective roles, Bareback Pinkerton and Shylock Homestead, and for their eminently successful efforts to keep the audience amused.

The quiet, droll Shylock still contrasts oddly with the spirited dash and go of his partner Rareback, and these two comedians are to be highly complimented on the way they work together to make their parts successful.

Mr Dan Avery’s principal musical numbers, “Castle on the Nile” and “My little bunch of sweetness” are encored over and over again; and Mr Chas. Hart is treated in like manner for his “Jonah Man”; Mr Walter Dixon plays with much verve and spirit as Hustling Charlie, and his sprightly dancing in the last scene elicits rounds of applause;

Mr Walter Richardson suitably impersonates George Reader; and Doctor Straight is successfully sustained by Mr H.M. Johnson. Messrs. Pete Washington, Theo. Wilson, and Sam Cousins deserve praise for their respective portrayals of Hamilton Lightfoot, Leather, and Henry Stanfield.

Rosetta Lightfoot is rendered by Miss Maud Yeager quite in accord with the prevailing humour; she is full of vivacity and dash, and sings and dances charmingly; Miss Edna Alexander plays the part of Mrs Stringer with verve and zest, and helps to keep things moving; Miss Fanny Wise is suitably cast as Pansy, and Miss Bertha Cousins as Cecilia.

The remaining members of the company perform their parts with care and intelligence. A particularly bright and attractive chorus is a feature of the show, and no small measure of enjoyment is afforded by the Marlborough Orchestra, this week under the direction of Mr Arnold Cooke.

On Tuesday afternoon the Besses o’ th' Barn Brass Band paid a flying visit and was heartily received. The growing popularity of this handsome theatre is being well maintained by Mr F.W. Purcell, who has arranged for some high class autumn bookings.

The Era, Saturday 7 October 1905
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk