Page:Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day.djvu/54

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J. L. Toole.

farce, in humour and pathos, his acting is excellent. He is always amusing, often affecting. There are no parts that show him to greater advantage than such characters as Caleb Plummer in 'Dot,' or Harry Coke in 'Off the Line.' Of this impersonation, Mr. Toole makes one of those perfect pictures of everyday life of the lower class in which he has so often proved himself a consummate artist. But in low comedy and broad farce it would be difficult to find an actor of equal merit. He has identified himself of late with the character of Paul Pry, in Poole's celebrated play of that name. As Paul Pry he keeps his audience in a roar whenever he is on the stage; but he renders the character of the inquisitive gentleman in a quiet and unobtrusive way, quite original in itself. In Mr. Toole's hands, Paul's curiosity is a disease. He does not know of his peculiarity, and his 'I hope I don't intrude,' and 'I just dropped in,' fall not as gag phrases, but as the natural remarks of a man who feels the importance of his business must make his company desirable, or at all events tolerable.

Although, perhaps, the character is not naturally so well suited to Mr. Toole as many others of his well-known parts, he has completely made Paul his own. It is a part in which the actor mellows with time. Mr. Toole has played it many times, and his representation of the prying gossip is now admirable. It is one of the most finished and perfect of his efforts: from the beginning to the end of the piece he seems never to miss a single point.