Here are two reviews relating to a week of concerts performed by the Humoresks early in their South Africa tour in a town or city referred to as East London.






Bioscope Jottings.


In speaking of the Vaudette performance last night, it is hardly possible to use the phrase "change of programme," at all events as far as Olly Oakley and his "Humoresks" are concerned, seeing that the celebrated banjoist has been giving fresh selections from his immense repertoire each night. And the same is true to a certain extent as far as the rest of the company are concerned. Of the popularity of all the artists it can be said that rarely has a company taken such a hold in the East London public as has the present. This is, of course, primarily due to the talent of all of them but a big factor in their success has been the refined nature of the whole of their programme.

In this respect they have established a standard which will be difficult to beat, or even equal, and it is due to that high standard that many people have been attracted to the Vaudette who are not usually seen there. As to the music-loving portion of East London, most of it has visited the theatre at least once during this week and all have gone into raptures over Oakley’s playing of the banjo. Indeed, one of the joys of visiting the Vaudette this week has been to note the different expressions on peoples faces when listening to his items. With the general public it has been pure enjoyment without any attempt to analyse the work done by the player, but with musicians expressions have varied from the absorbed admiration of the expert to the wide open shining eyes, working features and wriggling form of the young lady who is taking lessons on the banjo and constantly appealed to her mother or female friend to know if they saw "how he did that" or "oh, look at the movement of his fingers, isn’t it wonderful?"

Last night Mr. Oakley had as great a success as on any previous night, greater if anything, and he gave a number of new pieces. The other artists also put on entirely new numbers, and as a result those who have already been to the Vaudette will find themselves repaid by another visit. To hear such a fine voice as that of Con Morris deal with "Friend of Mine", such a humorous item as Brett Hayden’s "Notions and Noises", to listen to Miss (sic.) Winifred Oakley warble "Mary from Tipperary" or Laura Lonsdale’s artistic rendering of "When you come Home" or finally Nora Blakemore and Julia Larkin give their solos is worth a pilgrimage, leave alone a five minutes’ walk, or a few steps from a tram to the entrance. In case, however, that anyone should feel that there was not enough value for money, the company wind up with a delightful comedy sketch in one act, "A trial by Music".


Friday, December 10, 1915



The Manager of the Vaudette has been giving us a lot of good things lately, and in the "Humoresks" he has gone one better. The Humoresks are seven in number with the famous banjoist, Olly Oakley, at their head. They are all clever in their own particular way, and their cleverness is greatly enhanced by their freshness - for this is there (sic) first appearance in South Africa. For once in a way we do not get them after a long tour through the country, and we can sit and listen to their merry jokes knowing that they have not been fired off in Cape Town, Kimberley; Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Durban already. This is evident from the demeanour of the Humoresks themselves. When a couple of them are doing a turn the rest don’t sit around manifestly bored to tears – they are merry and bright all the time. The ladies in their smart frocks look just charming, and the gentlemen in their well-cut dress clothes are free from that awful resemblance to a waiter that is so painfully common to this costume on the vaudeville stage. As for the entertainment itself, it is brimful of humour and talent. I have never heard such music produced from a banjo. Dainty, singing tones that ring clear and true, soft and melodious as a flute or resonant as a concert grand. I noticed that Mr Oakly (sic) wears no plectron, having trained his own finger-nails for that purpose. He plays all sorts of music, from classical to rag-time, and he plays his instrument as a banjo, not as a sort of noisy mandoline.




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