Musette Morell's His Gentle Art of Making Enemies forms part of the Campbell Howard Collection of Australian Plays in Manuscript, a resource that provides a unique body of research material concerning Australian drama of the period 1920–55.
Play Length: Three Acts: Four Scenes
Act I: One of Whistler's famous Sunday morning breakfasts. The gay and distinguished company discusses the host, who is late (as usual). When he appears his wit and charm captivate (among the rest) Felicity, who meets him for the first time. Whistler is smitten with her beauty. The conversation veers to the forth-coming case of Whistler versus Ruskin and there is great excitement. Felicity's aunt, Lady Meed, leaves in great dudgeon, with Whistler in tow. Whistler is almost persuaded to drop the case, when a message arrives from Ruskin's solicitors and changes that.
Act II, Scene i: an ante-room at the court, where the celebrated trial is proceeding. The extravagant bohemian wins the case and, although he has to find his own costs, is grmily elated. At the close he is approached by a delightful woman, Beatrice Goodwin, who sympathises with him eagerly and intelligently. The second scene of Act II is at the banquest in Whistler's house that night to celebrate his "victory". The bailiffs are there, but Whistler has disguised them as waiters. Now Felicity, as well as fortune, fails him. As the furniture is being removed, a table falls apart-he seizes a piece of it. They have left him, at least, a leg to stand on. The final Act is set six months later, again Whistler's house, but stripped bare. Du Maurier and Beatrice sit over a picnic lunch at a box. The hammer of the auctioneer, selling up Whistler's effects can be heard off-stage. Whistler is no whit dispirited-and there are comic scenes between him and his buyers; a serious confab with Du Maurier and, later, a romantic one with Beatrice. They survey the empty room-to be sure, they have a clean start, and gaily end the play.
I Sunday Morning Breakfast with Whistler. Room in Whistler's house, Lindsay Road. September 1878.
II.i The Trial. An ante-room of the Exchequer Division, Westminster, 26 November 1878.
II.ii The same as Act I. That night.
III The same as Act I. An afternoon in May 1879. Six months later.
FELICITY ECKS, her neice
DIBBS, Whistler's man
EDWARD and FREDRICK COPPIE, pupils of Whistler
JAMES ABBOT McNEIL WHISTLER
GEORGE DU MAURIER
A PRECIOUS YOUNG MAN
BARTHE, an art dealer
SIR JOHN HOLKER, Attorney-General
TWO BAILIFFS, AN AUCTIONEER and BUYERS
NUNE: Campbell Howard Collection. QU: Hanger Collection.
Details for description taken from the Campbell Howard Annotated Index of Australian Plays 1920-1955, compiled and edited by Jack Bedson and Julian Croft.
Data time period: 1920 to 1955
109.51172,-9.96885 155.03906,-9.96885 155.03906,-44.9648 109.51172,-44.9648 109.51172,-9.96885
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