# 28380

TAYLOR, Tom (1817-1880)

[GOLD RUSH] New Holborn Theatre Royal … This Evening, Saturday June 8th … The Antipodes! Or, The Ups and Downs of Life. By Tom Taylor, Esq.

$1,850.00 AUD

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Author of “Still Waters Run Deep”, “Plot and Passion”, “The Ticket of Leave Man” &c. &c. The Extensive Scenery designed and painted by Mr. William Telbin, Mr. Telbin, Jun., Mr. H. P. Hall and Assistants. The Appointments by Mr. A. Lloyds. Costumes by Mr. S. May. The Music composed and arranged by Mr. G. Richardson … … [London] : s.n., [1867]. Programme, small octavo (180 x 115 mm), [4] pp; embossed decorative borders, centre pages with full cast list and detailed descriptions of ‘Scenery in the Drama’; Act II, which is titled ‘Australia’, takes place en route to the diggings in a ‘Canvas Town, with distant View of Melbourne’; Act III is entitled ‘At the Diggings’, and includes the scenes ‘In the Bush’, ‘Near Ballarat’, ‘In the Bush Once More’ and ‘Dead Man’s Gully by Moonlight’;  an; rear side with advertisement for Rimmel’s Perfumes; in very good condition, with some toning and a short paper reinforcement at foot of gutter.

Rare opening night programme for the play Antipodes! Or, The Ups and Downs of Life, by the popular English dramatist Tom Taylor (1817-1880), at London’s New Holborn Theatre Royal on 8 June 1867. Most of this melodrama is set on the Victorian goldfields. 

Taylor, who was also a critic and became editor of Punch, was a prolific playwright: over 100 of his plays were staged during his career, the most famous of which during the nineteenth century was Our American Cousin (1858).

The first-ever production of Antipodes! starred Mr. Westland, Mr. Sam Emery, Mrs. Watts (née Miss E. Terry, ‘her first appearance at this theatre), Mr. E. Garden, Mr. Vollaire, Mr. E. Price, Mr. Wilmott, Mr. R. Thorne, Mrs. J. W. Simpson and Miss Rose Moon, with a cast of unnamed extras playing ‘Guests, Diggers, Bushrangers, Police, &c. &c.’.

The celebrated actress Ellen Terry was annoyed that the management billed her as Mrs. Watts, even though her unhappy marriage to G. F. Watts had already ended. She had only recently emerged from retirement to make what was to be only a brief return to the stage. Terry wrote in her autobiography that “It was a bad play, and I had a bad part, but Telbin’s scenery was lovely. Telbin was a poet, and he has handed on much of his talent to his son….” In his Ellen Terry and her impersonations : an appreciation, Charles Hiatt notes that Taylor was accused of plagiarising Boucicault’s Flying Squad and Reade’s It’s Never Too Late to Mend, but he later repudiated this and said Taylor’s play had actually preceded both (although this does not appear to be the case).

Taylor’s play Antipodes! is not nearly as well known as Charles Reade’s novel, later adapted for the stage, It’s Never Too Late to Mend, which was also set on the Australian goldfields. The June 1867 production at the New High Holborn Theatre Royal received bad reviews and it would seem that the play was not staged again.

Trove locates no copy of this programme for Antipodes!; nor of any playbill that may have been printed for the production. This opening night programme – printed by the theatre and purchased by a patron who witnessed the play – is an undoubtably rare and significant survivor.