Beau Brummel

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Beau Brummel is a play by Bertram P. Matthews.

The original text

A melodramatic play about the ill-fated love of Beau Brummel for Mary Mayne, a passion which flared up suddenly when the Beau rescued Lady Mary from highwaymen.

The play had been commissioned from Matthews by the actor--manager Gerald Lawrence, with commissioned incidental music by Edward Elgar. It was first staged at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham in November 1928, with Elgar conducting the orchestra on the first night.

The play was never published and has disappeared from memory, with only a single script surviving in the British Library. This was the Lord Chamberlain's (official censor) copy.

The Elgar score too has remained unpublished, and - with the exception of the Minuet which alone has outlived the play - the composer's manuscript (hence the music itself), has vanished without trace.

For more on the play and its British production, see the article by Robert Kay, 2011.[1]

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

In 1929 a West End theatre company from London, led by actor-manager Gerald Lawrence, toured South Africa and Rhodesia, putting on a portfolio of plays, including Beau Brummel. The tour played in venues owned by African Theatres Ltd. and started in Johannesburg on 1st April 1929 and finished in Cape Town on 3rd October.

The section of the tour in which Beau Brummel was performed commenced in Johannesburg on 19th August at His Majesty's Theatre, played a few days in Pretoria, and ended up in Cape Town. The theatre company's itinerary apparently also included three-day (four performances) visits to Bloemfontein (14-17 September) and Port Elizabeth (September 19-21 September) respectively. Some cast members were Gerald Lawrence as Beau Brummel, Madge Compton as Miss Mary Mayne, John Lancaster as the villain, William Devereux, Wilson Coleman, May Pemberton, Dennis Roberts, Alan Sawford Dye.


Robert Kay. 2011. "Gerald Lawrence, Elgar and the missing Beau Brummel Music", The Elgar Society Journal: pp.4-28[2]

The S.A. Merry-Go-Round, 2(4):28. August 21st, 1929.

Correspondence from Robert Kay of Acuta Music[3], Monday 13 July, 2015.

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