The Lady Cristilinda, 1922

The Lady Cristilinda

A comedy in four acts by Monckton Hoffe
Produced by William Harris, jr.
Staged by Robert Milton

New York, Broadhurst Theatre, December 25, 1922

Cast of Characters

Frederick Frank Arundel
The Lady Cristilinda Fay Bainter
The Bishop of Uttoxeter Arthur Barry
Father Reaney St. Clair Bayfield
Policeman Henry Burbage
Chauffeur Charles Cheltenham
H. S. Tucker, M.P. Roy Cochrane
The Marquis of Leith J. Malcolm Dunn
Rapho Courtenay Foote
Iky-Mo Ferdinand Gottschalk
Lawrence Grant Col. Thackeray Martyn
Lord Llanelly Ethelbert Hales
Martini Leslie Howard
His Worship, the Mayor of Hammerpool A. P. Kaye
Mr. Inklethorp Thomas Louden
H.R.H. the Duke of Calshot Gavin Muir
Froggy Elizabeth Patterson
Sir Julius Samoon Eugene Powers

Summary

Act I.- Christopherson’s Royal Circus.
Act II.-A Public Meeting at the Magnifidrome Palace of Varieties, Hammerpool
Act III.- Christopherson’s Circus
Act IV.- The Abbey Church of St. Etheldreda

The Lady Cristilinda’s family had been “show folks” for generations. She, herself, was the premiere equestrienne of her father’s Royal Circus and a great favorite. One young fellow ran away with the show to be near her, and, being an artist, became a “lightning portraiturist” as a side show feature. Martini, they called him. He loved Cristilinda very much, and one day he painted her on the back of an old canvas and sold it to Iky-Mo, a dealer, for twelve pounds. The same day Martini’s father found his son and, by pleading with her in the name of the boy’s future, got Cristilinda to give him up. Years after it was discovered that the painting of Cristilinda, being a copy after the style of the old masters, was resold to a rich man, and by him presented to a church. It was a picture of St. Etheldreda, they said. By the time the fake was discovered, Martini had become a great painter, and the Lady Cristilinda, having fallen from her horse, was a cripple. But she travelled all the way to the church to plead with the churchmen not to expose the fraud. Nobody knew but what the little circus rider really was a saint. And so long as they did not know it did not harm them. So it was ordered that nothing be said about the painting, and the Lady Cristilinda was happy — for herself, and for Martini, too.
(Burne-Mantle, The Best Plays of 1922-1923)

Reviews

[…] Indeed, the reports of this play from out of town, and the rumor of it up and down the Rialto, did little to prepare one for the kind of play that it is.
Of its four acts, two are close to superb, another is highly interesting, and in only one does the play seem a bit halt and lame. It is frankly of a sketchy quality, and the author has proceeded with a disregard for conventions that is gorgeous to behold, although there is no telling what it may do to the popularity of the play. Granted all its unevennes, here is nevertheless a play that is highly and subtly humorous and, while reverent, nevertheless thrusts deep at the roots of all religion and all faith. Moreover, it has been splendidly produced by William Harris, who has been at pains to provide it with the best cast that he could get.
[…] Fay Banter gives an excellent performance as the young girl of the circus, and is particularly fine in the first act. Arthur Byron, as the drunken proprietor of the circus, yields to a temptation to overplay, but is amusing; and there is fine work by Leslie Howard, Courteney Foote, Ferdinand Gottschalk, A.P. Kay, Gavin Muir, Arnold Lucy, Malcolm Dunn, Eugene Powers, Roy Cochrane, Thomas Louden, St. Clair Bayfield, Ethelbert Hales and Elizabeth Patterson. The list is long, but that is Mr. Harris’s fault.
(John Corbin, The New York Times, December 26, 1922)

The piece at the Broadhurst tells a slight and rather odd tale of a pathetic romance between a bareback rider and the lightning artist of the circus who later becomes a distinguished painter. The play has a great deal of honest feeling and authentic sentiment and it is acted with judgement and a fine sense of values by the charming Miss Bainter.
[…] Leslie Howard has the role of the engaging young man who does the portrait of the girl which later is enshrined above the altar in a cathedral and is venerated as a genuine old master.[…]
Arthur Byron, as the circus owner, Courtney Foote and Ferdinand Gottschalk are excellent among the large supporting cast, all of whom do good work.
(Alvin J. Kayton, Daily Star, New York,  December 29, 1922)

The circus has come to town–at the Broadhurst Theater–and Miss Fay Bainter, in “The Lady Cristilinda,” Monckton Hoffe’s new play, is the sort of star that rises higher and higher from the first curtain to the final drop. Miss Bainter plays the title role of the bareback rider in her father’s circus admirably, and Arthur Byron lends her excellent support as the circus owner.
[…] “The lady Cristilinda” is always picturesque, humorous at times and again deeply moving. Miss Bainter is a sympathetic heroine and gives the play all the resources of her personal charm and her art. Her excellent supporting cast, including Leslie Howard, Ferdinand Gottschalk, A.P. Kaye and Courtenay Foote, lends life and color to the whole.
(The New York Call, December 31, 1922)

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Fay Banter

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(Theatre Magazine, March 1923