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

Click on these links for publication details of editions used for indexing:

short stories | novels | children's stories

In Dahomey (Paul Laurence Dunbar & Will Marion Cook)
February 18 - April 4: New York Theater, New York, USA

February 1 - ?: Theatre Royal, Hull, England

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


The musical comedy "In Dahomey" has a flavour peculiarly it’s own. Its humour of novel kind; its music is quiet unconventional; its dances are such as we have not seen before in Hull: the people who take part in are quaint and singular unlike any other company on the stage. The "In Dahomey" flavour has a certain pleasant pungency. A large audience in the Theatre Royal last night proved its appreciation of it by the indulgence of unrestrained laughter and the bestowal of enthusiastic applause.

“In Dahomey” is the title. In the prologue to the piece we get a brief glance of life in Dahomey, and that is all we see of Dahomey. Afterwards it is al! talk about going to Dahomey, though the audience knows, alter the explanation of the prologue, that the company of blacks which gather in Boston and sets out via Florida for Dahomey will never get there.

That is the main point of the plot - that the emigrants never land. But while they are making the attempt to get to Dahomey, they indulge in some very strange and amusing capers.

Chief among the fun-makers are Williams and Walker, two Bostonians of shady character, who are appointed detectives, and employed to track the purloiner of a certain silver casket. These two detectives are a couple of most atrocious rogues - thieves set to catch thieves. A good deal of the amusement the piece has to do with their attempts to swindle each other.

It would scarcely be possible to say too much of the droll simplicity of Mr B. A. Williams as Shylock Homestead, detective, or of the smartness and dash of Mr George W. Walker as Rareback Pinkerton, Shylock's "personal friend and adviser." The extravagances of this engaging pair kept the theatre ringing with laughter.

Mr J.A. Shipp's impersonation of Hustling Charley, promoter of Get-the-Coin Syndicate, was another strikingly original characterisation. The Hustler’s unscrupulousness is appalling - as colossal as his dancing in the final cake walk scene is clever.

The ladies of the piece are not greatly concerned in the development of the plot. Their mission is to sing and dance. Truly they are remarkable singers and phenomenal dancers. "Phenomenal” is quite the right word, for though we have seen much cake-walking and cake dancing nothing has hitherto been placed before the audiences of Hull like the bewildering gyrations and lightning-like movement of feet and legs which the people in the Theatre Royal last night were treated when great cake walk exhibition was reached. Those. who did not ''take the cake" danced marvellously; she who did win danced in a way almost beyond belief.

The musical interest of the piece begins with the overture, which is very curiously, almost barbarically, scored. In song and chorus and accompaniment to dance, the music is never allowed to flag. the prologue (which is a very poetic and picturesque suggestion of life in Dahomey) occurs a fine song, “My Dahomian Queen,” and a stirring chorus, remarkable for its peculiar harmonies.

Later on “Mollie Green,” “My Castle on the Nile,” “Broadway in Dahomey,” "A Actor Lady,” “The Man,” “The Czar of Dixie,” “The Cake Walk,” and other telling numbers are presented. There is much of colour and grace to admire in the “Czar” song, with its incidental "dream" of Spanish dancers.

Altogether, “In Dahomey” made highly favourable impression last night, and should be largely patronised during the week as a consequence.

Hull Daily Mail, Tuesday 2 February 1904
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk