Punch, or the London Charivari, 21 January 1903
AN EVENING FROM HOME.
AT the Alhambra the plot of the new ballet, The Devil's Forge, will remind veteran opera-goers of Der Freischiitz, and the younger generation of Siegfried. But the scene in the cavern of the mountain witch, where the three army corps of flame, frost and water fairies are manoeuvred with the utmost precision and great kaleidoscopic splendour, owes nothing to WEBER or WAGNER. Miss EDIE SLACK, as that dashing young blade, Karl, excellent in a Romeo costume; Mile. AI.MA MARI, as the Mountain Fairy, gives an excellent imitation of an animated pair of compasses. Music by Mr. GEORGE BYXI;, of the sumptuous and sonorous type. For the rest one can take trips to Fez or the Moon, per Bioscope, or watch the NOLSET Troupe noiset in nature as in name perform their astonishing feat of 'Circling the Circ.' Squaring the circle is nothing to the achievement of this amazing quartet of cyclists, who climb into a large skeleton bottomless bucket, so to speak, and then proceed, all four of them, to race, full tilt round the inner sides ot the bucket, which is gradually hoisted up twenty feet into the air.
Poster advertising The Devil's Forge, a 'legendary ballet' in 2 scenes by Charles Wilson at London's Alhambra Theatre, first performed 12 January 1903, depicting Edie Slack as Karl. Colour lithograph by Weiner's Ltd., London, 1903. Harry Beard Collection.
Height: 75.5 cm, Width: 50.4 cm
The 2-act ballet The Devil's Forge was the first item on the programme at the Alhambra Theatre in a programme which included other variety acts including a sketch by Pelissier's Follies, a magic act by Le Roy, Talma and Bosco, Will Mora's 'gymnastic absurdity' act and The Imperial Bioscope. The 5-scene 'grand ballet' Carmen was the main attraction, adapted by Charles Wilson from the novel by Prosper Merimee.
Colour lithograph poster of a night scene representing an auburn-haired female warrior as played by Edie Slack standing in the open air with a waterfall behind her brandishing a rapier in her right hand, her left hand on her hip, lit by flames leaping from the bottom left-hand corner of the poster. She is dressed as an abundantly feminine mediaeval-style knight in parti-coloured red and yellow tights, the yellow leg with a black stripe down it, the red with a black garter on her thigh; red sleeves over red fleshings, a gold breast-plate gleaming in the light of the flames, accentuating the nipped-in waist, and deliocate shoes fastened with a bow and quite unsuited to battle. She wears a large soft red hat decorated with a single feather attached by a jewel at the centre front; silver chain-mail gauntlets, and has a purse and dagger attached from a cord around her waist. The name of the theatre ALHAMBRA is in the top left-hand corner in white upper-case lettering, and the name of the production THE DEVIL'S FORGE in white upper-case lettering, bottom right corner.
The printer' location is noted on the poster as 'London NW'
This poster depicts the dancer Edie Slack as the sixteenth-century sword maker Karl, in the triumphant pose from the second scene of the ballet The Devil's Forge, after he has plunged his sword into the fire and the stream in a mystic cave to make it invincible. The ballet was first performed at London's Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square, 12 January 1903, as one item on the bill which included Variety acts and a longer ballet.
From the age of five Edith Slack trained as a dancer with Katti Lanner, and while serving her apprenticeship she danced in Lanner's ballets at Crystal Palace, the Aquarium and the Empire Theatre. Between 1900 and 1906 she was a leading dancer at the Alhambra, frequently playing so-called 'travesty' roles of men played by women. At a time when no respectable woman showed more than a glimpse of ankle under her long skirts, this theatrical display of female leg was an extra attraction for many gentlemen to patronise ballets at the Alhambra Theatre.