The Mysteries of Audley Court
A Play by John Brougham, Performed at Astley's in London in 1866
Based on the Novel by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Page written by Jennifer Carnell
The Mysteries of Audley Court, John Brougham's adaptation of Lady Audley's Secret in five acts, was first performed at Astley's Theatre (formerly Astley's Amphitheatre) on 11 August 1866 under the new management of Miss Sophie Young. Sophie Young played Lady Audley and was fairly new to the stage. She was one of the pupils of actor and drama teacher John Ryder. Ryder was an influential tutor, who had trained Adelaide Neilson, and was known as the 'Juliet maker' for the number of pupils who had gone on to act in Romeo and Juliet. Ryder played the role of Luke Marks in The Mysteries of Audley Court and was also the director of the production.
The playbill above shows the bill of fare for 20 August 1866. The lessee of Astley's was E.T. Smith of Ashburnham House, Chelsea. Open for the summer season, it declared: 'Great attraction! New Drama, New Comic Ballet. New and Talented Company under the Management of Miss Sophie Young.
The roles and cast were:
Robert Audley - played by George Jordan.
Lady Audley - played by Sophie Young
George Talboys - played by H. Sinclair
Sir Michael Audley - played by Basil Potter
Doctor Pilsbury - played by J. Neville
Captain Malden - played by John Howard
Luke Marks - played by John Ryder
Sir Harry Towers - played by Mr. Brooke
Alicia Audley - played by Maud Shelley
Phoebe Marks - played by Miss Marian
Mrs. Doctor Pilsbury - played by Mrs. Simpson
Mrs. Oakley - played by Mrs. Johnstone
Miss Oakley - played by Miss Moore
Mrs. Maloony - played by Miss Turtle
Mary - played by Miss Aymes
Scenery by Charles & W. Brew.
Music by W.H. Montgomery
Directed by John Ryder
The Synopsis of Scenery and Tableau gives some ideas as to the
dramatisation and what the staging looked like:
Robert Audley's Chamber in the Temple.
"She is dead, my darling is dead!"
An Apartment in Audley Court.
"I have destroyed her and myself!"
Drawing Room in Audley Court.
Tableau 1st "It was a skilful game, but I have won!"
Drawing Room as before "I hate her with all my soul!"
Interior of the Castle Inn.
"I'll have some more money out 'o her, or out comes all!"
The Lime Tree Walk.
Tableau 2nd "Fate, I defy thee now!"
Interior of the Castle Inn. "I've seen summut as would make you stare!"
Drawing Room. Tableau 3rd. "Something connected with you, Lady Audley!"
Residence of Captain Malden. "Fresh links to the fatal chain; the circle is complete!"
Garden Attached to Audley Court. "I'll have a fight for her yet."
Drawing Room. Tableau 4th "Haunted by the spirit of George Talboys."
Exterior of the Castle Inn. "Checkmate to your Ladyship!"
Interior of the Castle Inn. Tableau 5th Denoument. "You have conquered a mad woman." "The Mystery of her life is solved."
Also performed that night, after the main play, was a ballet
titled Rosalie; or, La Fiancee, performed by W.H. Payne, Harry Payne,
Fred Payne, Paul Herring, Madame Esta and a corps de ballet from Covent Garden.
Bibliography and Recommended Reading:
Jennifer Carnell, The Literary Lives of Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Sensation Press, 2000).
Robert Lee Wolff, Sensational Victorian: The Life and Fiction of Mary Elizabeth Braddon (New York: Garland, 1979).
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