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Ballyvogan - A play in four acts, by Arthur Lloyd

 

Katty King playing in Arthur Lloyd's ballyvogan at the Opera House, Londonderry 1887 - Click to enlargeArthur Lloyd was not just a Music Hall Singer, Song Writer, and Performer, he was also a Playwright and had several Plays published, which he performed regularly with his own Comic Company.

Ballyvogan was the most successful and the following synopsis and Review give a flavour of the work itself, and how it was played.

Ballyvogan - Drama, in Four Acts, by Arthur Lloyd, produced on Monday Evening, July 25th, 1887 at the Tyne Theatre, Newcastle-on-Tyne.

Norah O'Sullivan............. Miss Katty King
Mrs O'Sulivan................. Mrs Hewetson Porter
Miss Kate Redmond....... Miss Lizzie Longmore
Mary Power.................... Miss Ada Clare
Sir Gerald Macmahon.......Mr Arthur Palling
Gerald Macmahon...........(Mr J. O. Stewart)
Jim Branson.....................(Mr J. O. Stewart)
Timothy Littlejohn.............Mr W. H. Newsome
Mr Al' Crindle..................Mr Arthur Lloyd
Pat Hogan........................Mr Alfred Young
Major Redmond...............Mr Hewetson Portes
Father Connell..................Mr Harry Carrismour
Inspector Keene...............Mr T. H. Mason
The Hon. Bobby Bowser..Mr George Clanville

(From Our Own Correspondent)

This review and synopsis of Arthur Lloyd's Ballyvogan was very kindly sent in by Brent Fernandez.The above drama was produced before an excellent house on Monday Last. The plot, somewhat sensational, but of a highly interesting nature, is skillfully constructed, and has a telling denouement.

The first scene shows us the cottage of Mrs O'Sullivan, tenant of Sir Gerald Macmahon, of Ballyvogan, where we are introduced to the heroine, Norah O'Sullivan, and her suitor and cousin, Pat Hogan, who, having avowed his love, is informed by Norah that she can never return his affection, because the heir of Ballyvogan, Gerald Macmahon, has also made love to her, and much as his station is above hers, she hopes and yet fears the result.

Gerald at this time enters, and renews his protestations of affection; and, as he the same day about to join his regiment, presents her with his portrait in a locket, she giving him a ring.

A canting Scotchman, M'Crindle, who is a rejected suitor of Norah's, having learned that Gerald is about to visit her, informs his, (Gerald's) father, who has set his mind upon his son marrying the daughter of one Major Redmond.

Sir Gerald arrives just at the time when Norah has presented the ring to his son, and, after expostulating with the latter, intimates that he will not stand in the way of the wishes of the loving pair being fulfilled if, after a lapse of three years, they have the same feeling toward each other.

The next scene is the lodgings of Jim Branson, a forger, who in conversation with his dupe, Timothy Littlejohn, lets us know that, as London is getting rather too hot for him,he has secured berths for the pair in a ship bound for Australia, and intends to leave his mistress Mary Power behind to look after herself. Mary, however, overhearing this, enters, and after a vain effort on the part of Branson to get her to remain in England, she informs him that unless he signs a paper acknowledging her as his wife she will give the signal to the detectives who are waiting outside ready to arrest him. In order to obtain a key from her that he may escape by another door he agrees to sign the paper, and having obtained the key, pulls out a revolver and shoots her, eventually making his escape just as the detectives enter.

Between the first and second acts four years are supposed to have elapsed, and we find that Norah is lamenting the non-return of Gerald, who has been expected to come back in the steamship Pandora. Her mother enters with a Dublin newspaper, and informs her that their worst fears are confirmed as a portion of the wreck has been found with the name Pandora on it.

The next scene is on the rocky coast of an island in Australia, where Gerald Macmahon has been cast ashore along with Timothy and Jim Branson, the last-named of whom nears an extraordinary likeness to Gerald. Jim is in an improvised tent, supposed to be ill and sleeping, but in reality listening to the recital by Gerald of his history, and his prospects as heir of Ballyvogan. Jim determines to get him out of the way, and as soon as the ship can be signaled make his way back to Ireland, assume Gerald's name, and lay claim to the estates. A vessel coming in sight, Jim shoots Gerald, and leaves him for dead on the island.

The next episode takes place in Ballyvogan, where we find Jim Branson passing himself off as Sir Gerald Macmahon, the previous holder of the title being dead. Owing to his likeness to Gerald, he has been acknowledged by Major Redmond and his daughter. He goes to Norah's cottage, and, in response to her references to his plighting his love to her and giving her the locket, he denies the whole of her story, and determines to give her into custody on a trumped-up charge of stealing the locket. He is in the act of doing so when Gerald turns up, having recovered and returned by another ship.

The tables are now turned, and Gerald is acknowledged by his acquaintances, but owing to the coolness and effrontery of Jim, who is determined to keep up his imposture, the rightful heir is thrown into prison as being on the track of that worthy.

Previous to being committed for trial Gerald is examined before the resident magistrate, Major Redmond. Matters do not look pleasant for the wrongfully imprisoned man, when asn unexpected witness turns up in Pat Hogan, supposed to have been lost at sea, who denounces the forger, and is supported by Timothy. Sir Gerald is at once liberated, and Branson is secured by the detectives.

Especial praise is due to Miss Katty King for her graceful and natural acting as Norah, very hearty applause falling to her share. She also danced with conspicuous success.

The dual part of Gerald and James Branson was admirably played by Mr J. O. Stewart.

A cleverly drawn character is that of M'Crindle, which in the hands of Mr Arthur Lloyd, was a rare piece of character acting, the pawky Scotch humour that pervades the part being brought out with great effect.

Mr W. H. Newsome as Timothy and Miss Ada Clare as Mary Power are also deserving of commendation.

The drama has been presented on succeeding evenings throughout the week, and has been warmly received.

This review and synopsis of Arthur Lloyd's Ballyvogan was first published in the ERA, 30th July 1887.

"BALLYVOGAN."
ARTHUR LLOYD'S COMPANY and DRAMA.
Fifth Annual Autumn Tour
The ERA, 5th of August 1891

 

The ERA, 5th of August 1891

 

ROTUNDA THEATRE. LIVERPOOL (Third Visit).
ST. JAMES'S THEATRE, MANCHESTER (Second in Manchester).
QUEEN'S THEATRE, DUBLIN (First Visit).
GAIETY THEATRE, BRIGHTON (Second in Brighton).
THEATRE ROYAL, BIRKENHEAD (Fourth Visit).
OPERA HOUSE, LONDONDERRY (Third Visit).
THEATRE ROYAL, COATBRIDGE (Third Visit).
THEATRE ROYAL, JARROW (Third Visit).
THEATRE ROYAL, GREENOCK (First Visit).
PAVILION, BUXTON (First Visit).
QUEEN'S THEATRE, KEIGHLEY (Second Visit).
THEATRE ROYAL, BILSTON (First Visit).
THEATRE ROYAL, ALDERSHOT (First Visit).
THEATRE ROYAL, DUMFRIES (second Visit).
The only Vacant Week, Nov. 9th, Lancashire or Yorkshire.

From The ERA, 5th of August 1891

 

A cutting from The Era, 16th of November 1889.

 

Above - A cutting from The ERA, 16th of November 1889.

There now follows some notes on Ballyvogan compiled by Norman King Lloyd on reading the play briefly in March 1998 at the British Museum where a copy is still held.

ACT 1- SCENE 1

A cutting from the ERA of the 9th of November 1889.Irish Cottage with a pretty view of Irish scenery in background. Pat Hogan enters with a pig. Pat declares his love for Norah O’Sullivan.

Left - A cutting from The ERA of the 9th of November 1889 reviewing Ballyvogan at the Theatre Royal, Stratford.

ACT 1 - SCENE 2

Four years have elapsed since Scene l. Front interior of Mrs O’Sullivan’s cottage. Father Connell and Norah talk about the loss of the ‘Pandora’ off Australian Coast and presumed death of Gerald and Pat Hogan on their journey back home. Mrs O’sullivan’s long behind with the rents. The Hon Bobbie Bowser admits being in love with Norah. Mr McCrindle (Agent) threatens to turn Norah and her mother out of the cottage for non-payment of rent.

ACT 2 - SCENE 1

Pat Hogan wandering about on his own. A creek. High rocks each side of the stage. Water rolling in small waves across the sands. A small hut against a rock L. On the right sticks crossed gypsy fashion with a pot hanging over the fire. On top of a rock L is a shirt hanging on a pole for a flag. Branson (or double) in the hut. Gerald and Sleeky discovered attending to the pot. All unshaven and ragged. Branson decides to pass himself off as the Baronet - says he will murder him. They sight a ship. Branson fires gun at Gerald. Ship goes away

ACT 3 - SCENE 1

As Act 1. Mr McCrindle is telling Mrs O’Sullivan how good it is that the young Master was rescued. At the Hall, Sir Gerald and Miss Redmond are to be married. Miss Redmond finds it difficult to understand Branson’s ignorance of the area. Branson meets Norah and talks coldly to her. Norah reproaches him about the promises he made four years ago to her. Branson then accuses Norah of stealing a locket belonging to but it is Norah’s. Mr McCrindle discovers Branson to be the bank forger. The real Gerald unmasks himself. Constables arrest Branson.

ACT 4 - SCENE 1

Gerald is locked up mistakenly for Branson at the County Police Office.

ACT 4 - SCENE 2

Large room in Ballyvogan used as a Court. All ends happily and the real Gerald marries Norah. The last speech declares Norah to be the one and only ‘Pet of Ballyvogan’.

This is such a rough and ready guide to the play but I only had half an hour to read the play at the British Museum and have missed a few scenes. All the men in this play are in love with Norah.

Ballyvogan was an extravaganza with a lot of music and funny business - not to mention some stunning effects. Norah, a teenager, was of course played by Arthur Lloyd's wife Katty King who was thirty-six and a mother of six children by then. She must have still been very pretty. She played the role 500 times even when she was ill and dying. Katty died in 1891 aged thirty-nine.

Compiled by Norman King Lloyd – March 1998 See his website here.

Archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.

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