Gabrielle Ray

'Gabrielle Ray said, 'I am always dancing; I love it! When I don't dance, I sing. What else is there to do?'

Gabrielle Ray – See See – Truth – Wednesday 27th June 1906




French plays have taken to roosting in England. They are like a flock, not of rooks, but, say, birds of paradise – which, by the way, belong to the same ornithological group as do rooks, and thus my metaphor less forced than might appear. They flutter across Channel escorted by thievish jackdaws, and form a sort of paradisery in the West End, with, in many cases, “extensions” to the suburbs and provinces. They undergo considerable adventures, for the Lord Chamberlain is himself much interested in ornithology, and always pulls out some of their most startlingly gorgeous   plumes on their arrival, for which substitutes are supplied, in the case of “See-See” by the ingenious Mr. Charles Brookfield, whose libretto has many smart epigrams of true Britannic growth. Mr. Adrian Ross supplies a succession of dainty lyrics, which wed happily with the music of Mr. Sidney Jones, whose golden spurs were bound on by “The Geisha” herself. Here he does not disappoint us, and indeed shows in some respects an advance upon “The Geisha,” for the orchestration aspires rather toward the operatic than toward the mere titillation of the ear with catchy tunes; it is melodious rather than airified. “See-See” differs from many of its fellows in having a definite plot, which, although it develops slowly owing to the exigencies of individual artists, such as Mr. Huntley Wright, for whose delightful quaintnesses room must be found at all costs, culminates nevertheless in a real dilemma with a logical solution.

My readers have already had ample opportunity to acquaint themselves with the difficulties of Mr. Maurice Farkoa Yen, who falls in love with Miss See-See Orme, although he is already betrothed by his father to Miss Adrienne Augarde Lee, the daughter of an old friend. They doubtless know how Lee loves Hang-Kee Huntley Wright, a gentleman of pleasant wit and infinite resource, who arranges with his foster-sister, See-See, that she shall take Lee’s place, and that he shall personate Lee’s father, Mr. Hoang Emney, on their betrothal visit to that father’s friend, Mr. Cheoo Berry. Their amiable object in thus masquerading is to disgust Mr. Cheoo Berry with a lurid description of the unspeakable iniquities committed by his friend Mr. Hoang Emney in the course of amassing his vast fortune. Here we have a situation of amusing farcical comedy, for Mr. Cheoo Berry is altogether deceived as to the identity of his friend, whom he has not seen for years. He is reassured as to the great difference in height between the present and past Hoang Emney by Mr. Hang-Kee Huntley Wright’s lucid explanation that he had grown down in the interval. All seems plain sailing, and it must be easy to disgust the father of Yen with the narrative of Hoang Emney’s iniquities. But Cheoo Berry is neither surprised nor disgusted. Once he has made sure that the fortune is really there he looks upon the means by which it was acquired with indifference. It was all done in the way of trade, and is no concern of his. Mr. Berry and Mr. Huntley Wright are admirable in this scene, which perforce leads up to the shrew-taming episode of See-See’s forced marriage to Yen, whom she refuses to obey with a pretty petulance that soon melts before the masterfulness of Petruchio Yen Farkoa.

All these details and much beside must be familiar to many, but they should be advised to visit the Prince of Wales’s Theatre and see with their own eyes those beautiful harmonies of the cardinal colours, green and red, which dominate the Lotus Room in the Palace of Pearls, and to revel in the Asiatic opulence of Cheoo’s Garden, which is the scene of the other act, and the work of Mr. Hawes Craven, whom I have so often extolled in these columns. The first is to be credited to Mr. J. Harker.

The human accessories of the play manoeuvre with perfect elegance and precision, and in the unexpectedness of their groupings and windings in and out it is easy to trace the thought of Mr. Sydney Ellison. Among the episodes, boyish Miss Gabrielle Ray, habited marvellously in green or in pink, with a very becoming hat modelled on that of the classical Mercury, dancing directly into the favour of the audience, and singing thence of Chinese dollies, or joining in the “Bamboo” trio with that pretty treble of hers, remains most vivid in the memory. A patter quartet, “The Bill of Fare,” brings us down to culinary regions. See-See finds in Miss Denise Orme a singer of “Snowflakes and Roses,” and of another solo with chorus that took my fancy, “Won’t he be surprised?” I was not surprised but pleased, and I have no doubt that Miss Denise Orme and Mr. Maurice Farkoa will form a happy conjunction of stars when they have had time to settle down to their parts. The latter played his Petruchio scene for all it was worth, and acquitted himself well of his love songs in his own individual style, which has this quality of art that they do not vary, their outline is always the same, mutatis mutandis.  Mr. Huntley Wright’s song, “British Slavery,” has nothing to do with the play beyond being the greatest hit of the evening, and also a hit at a number of Western institutions.

Free, free is the happy Chinee,

But there, on that isle in the waves,

It’s the man with the hod who’s a little tin god,

And the people who pay are the slaves,

is a specimen from the varying chorus and a good sample of the whole. He and Mr. Berry chiefly provide the comic element, which they will doubtless develop yet further, as is the custom in these pieces. Their duet which deals with the farcical situation to which I have referred went very well on the first night, and is really amusing. I quote two couplets.

Huntley Wright Hang-Kee sings:

I have cheated, I have stolen, I have swindled,

And my wife has once performed on a trapeze.

H. Berry Cheoo replies:

But your wealth has grown although your virtues dwindled,

So we’ll say no more about it, if you please.

Well, I seem to have said a good deal about “See-See,” perhaps more than enough to send many of my readers to see See for themselves, but I observe the large eyes of Lee which seem to say, “You have said nothing about us.” Your “Butterfly” solo is a credit to you and to your musician, Mr. Frank Tours, Miss Adrienne Augarde Lee. We can never see too much of Lee when so much of Lee sees us.

Truth – Wednesday 27th June 1906

March 18, 2020 - Posted by | Actress, Gabrielle Ray, See See, Social History, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: