Great War Theatre

Examiner of Plays' Summary:

This entertainment consists of average jokes of a topical kind. The first scene is a queue outside a butcher's shop. The second imagines a 'kiss controller', a scene which might have been offensive which is merely silly. Then we have a scene outside 'Lady Hoardley's’ house, in which comic detectives seize supplies brought by tradesmen; they proceed in the next to find hidden stores in a maidservant s bedroom. The last scene deals more or less comically with the tank campaign for war bonds in a village. The 4th scene, in the maidservant's bedroom is not at all suggestive. She comes in sleepwalking and the detectives hide in the bed. A direction that she is found asleep in bed has been crossed out. I think, however, it would be as well to give a caution that this excision must be preserved. Recommended for licence. G. S. Street

Researcher's Summary:

‘Rations’ - which was commonly referred to as a ‘revuette’ - was produced by Fred Karno and originally starred Robb Wilton, supported by Winnie Collins and ‘a queue of quaint quipsters’. By the end of November 1918 Tom Drew had taken over from Robb Wilton who had been ill with ‘flu and pneumonia. According to the Examiner of Plays both versions of ‘Rations’ had four scenes, but reviews often say there were five or six. The tank scene which had been dropped by the time of the relicensing on 2 July 1918 (licence number 1653 - see the separate entry in the database) was reinstated in time to be mentioned in the Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal on 5 July 1918. The most detailed listing is in an advertisement in the Staffordshire Sentinel, 16 September 1918, which shows five scenes: ‘Scene 1, The Park; Scene 2, Butcher’s Shop; Scene 3, Lady Hoardley’s Secret; Scene 4, Wear Less Clothes; Scene 5, Tank Day’. The same newspaper the following day gave the fullest account of the production (c.f. also the Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 5 July 1918). The first mention found of the song ‘Wear Less Clothes’, performed by Winnie Collins, is in the Hull Daily Mail, 28 May 1918. The title of the scene ‘Lady Hoardley’s Secret’ is a punning reference to Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s sensation novel ‘Lady Audley’s Secret’ (1862). The Stage, 6 February 1919, commented that 'the piece has undergone revision since its last appearances in town', noting changes to the second and last scenes. Performances of ‘Rations’ have been found for most of 1918 but in only the first two months of 1919. It was always performed with supporting variety turns.

Licensed On: 2 Apr 1918

License Number: 1493




British Library Reference: LCP1918/6

British Library Classmark: Add MS 66188 T


Date Theatre Type
1 Apr 1918 Hippodrome, Colchester Unknown Licensed Performance
1 Apr 1918 Hippodrome, Colchester Professional
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The Era, 13 March 1918, reported, ‘Mr. Robb Wilton tells me that he has signed a contract to appear under Mr. Fred Karno’s management in a new revue entitled “Rations,” to be produced on April 1 at Colchester, to be followed by the Moss Tour’. Similarly The Stage, 14 March 1918.
8 Apr 1918 Empire Theatre, Birmingham Professional
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‘“Rations,” a short revue, presented by Mr. Fred Karno at the Empire Theatre last night, is an amusing skit on the present food difficulties. There are a succession of humorous scenes, and Robb Wilton, the comedian, makes the most of them. He is supported by a capable company, including Miss Winnie Collins, a sprightly and versatile artiste' (Birmingham Mail, 9 April 1918). ‘“Rations,” a short revue presented at the Empire Theatre by Fred Karno, lends itself to humorous treatment, and Robb Wilton, Winnie Collins, and the other members of the company take full advantage of the opportunities of raising a laugh. There are six scenes, some of them pretty, but all staged with the idea of creating fun, and chief among them are “The meatless butcher” and “Tank day"' (Evening Despatch, 9 April 1918). ‘“Rations,” the revuette which is being presented at the Empire Theatre this week by Mr. Fred Karno, can be recommended to those in search of bright and humorous entertainment. It bubbles over with fun - indeed, there is scarcely a moment during its course that there is not to laugh at, thanks in the main to Robb Wilton, who is supported by a number of capable artists. He makes plenty of capital out of the scene “The Meatless Butcher,” whilst even more laughable is the skit on the British workman employed on Government work - namely, laying down a telephone to a Tank. Miss Winnie Collins wins approval by her singing and acting, and with the choruses supporting the principals admirably the whole performance goes with a swing' (Birmingham Daily Post, 9 April 1918).
15 Apr 1918 Empire Palace, Edinburgh Professional
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The Scotsman, 15 April 1918, advertised at the Empire Palace Theatre ‘Fred Karno’s latest Revuette, Rations. Six Splendidly Staged Scenes. Powerful Cast includes Robb Wilton, “The Prince of Funmakers,” Winnie Collins, The Charming Comedienne, Supported by A Queue of Quaint Quipsters [and] with Powerful Supporting Varieties’.
22 Apr 1918 Coliseum, Glasgow Professional
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The Daily Record, 22 April 1918, advertised at the Coliseum Theatre ‘Fred Karno’s “Rations,” featuring Robt. Wilton, Winnie Collins, and a Strong Company of Fun Makers’, with supporting variety turns. The Era, 8 May 1918, advertised Rations with a quote from the Glasgow Evening News, 23 April 1918: ‘It is a right good show, with just enough of the solo and chorus to give Robb Wilton a rest, not to mention the ribs of the audience, for he makes them sore. Since Fred Kitchen’s day Karno has not struck a comedian like Robb Wilton, and it is doubtful whether Fred or Robb will regard this as the greater compliment’.
29 Apr 1918 Empire, Newcastle Professional
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‘“Rations” is the latest Karno production at the Empire, and is a revue which deals with a topical subject. There is ample scope for fun, and it is dished up with a liberal hand. The incidents in the Tank Day scene are the most humorous of all. Bobb [sic] Wilton is chief fun-dispenser, and he is most successful in that line. The principal female part is entrusted to Miss Winnie Collins, a clever young serio-comedienne' (Newcastle Journal, 30 April 1918). ‘One of the most laughable performances in the realm of topical nonsense is to be seen at the Empire Theatre, Newcastle, this week. It is a Fred Karno production, bearing the significant title, “Rations.” The name gives the clue to the fun, a fact which in itself is rather out of the common. There is no elaborate scenery, and no picturesque opulence in dress, but in lieu of these conventional garnishings there is an abundance of fun. The travesties on rationing are smart, and the dialogue is crisp and full of humour. Robb Wilton is the mirth-maker, and he keeps the audience in hilarious mood with a talent that bespeaks the real comedian. Winnie Collins, a lively artist with a very attractive presence, pleases greatly by her songs and dances' (Newcastle Daily Chronicle, 30 April 1918).
6 May 1918 Empire, Liverpool Professional
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‘There is a strong flavour of the topical about the programme at the Empire Theatre this week, since the title of the new Fred Karno revue presented is “Rations!”. It is not difficult to imagine that there are endless possibilities for amusement in a production with such a subject. Mr. Robb Wilton and a fine company lose no opportunity of turning the good material to most laughable account, with the result that the audience are bound to enjoy the Karno “Rations"'(Liverpool Daily Post, 7 May 1918). ‘The revuette “Rations,” presented at the Empire by Fred Karno’s Company is a diverting absurdity, which gives Robb Wilton many opportunities for his especial form of entertainment. As the meatless butcher with a bewildering array of registered customers - and such bewitching customers - he conducts a roaring trade, the roaring coming from the customers who go away empty-handed (Liverpool Echo, 7 May 1918).
13 May 1918 Empire, Sheffield Professional
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‘Merriment can even be made out of “Rations,” and the latest revue, which bears the name, is made very funny with Robb Wilton appearing in several roles. Travesty runs right through the five scenes, and Lady Hoardley’s Secret is a diverting performance - in fact, with Robb Wilton in the picture all the time, there is no dull moment. The parodies on every day life which he introduces into the piece are very mirth-provoking. Miss Winnie Collins is winsome in several roles, with her vivacious singing and dancing' (Sheffield Independent, 14 May 1918). ‘“Rations,” a topical Karno revue, full of mirth and melody, proved very popular at the Empire Palace last night. The company presenting it is a good one, and includes Winnie Collins and Robb Wilton' (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 14 May 1918). ‘A Fred Karno revue is always a source of merriment. “Rations” maintains this reputation [at the Empire, Sheffield], with Robb Wilton as the chief fun-maker; his quaint methods humorous matter [sic] cause continued laughter. Winnie Collins is a dainty and pleasing leading lady, and sings with spirit' (The Stage, 16 May 1918).
20 May 1918 Alhambra, Bradford Professional
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‘A “revuette” entitled “Rations,” one of Fred. Karno’s productions, is the principal item on the programme at the Bradford Alhambra this week. Robb Wilton is the leading comedian’. Yorkshire Evening Post, 21 May 1918.
27 May 1918 Palace Theatre, Hull Professional
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‘“Rations,” the revue at the Palace this week, is full of natural humour, the force of which can be appreciated by everybody. There are many whimsical skits on everyday food matters, and fun is fortunately not controlled. Robb Wilton is a spontaneous humorist, and is especially funny as the discoverer of Lady Hoardley’s secret, in the British workmen scene on Tank day, and as the butcher having a harassing time with his customers. As Kiss Controller he is unque [sic – unique?]. Winnie Collins is a dainty comedienne, who has many opportunities and is particularly successful in the song “Wear Less Clothes,” in which she comes on in a charmingly cool dress of heliotrope-coloured paper, which Robb Wilton has to test by tearing. Jack Mann helps the humour in the dinner scene, and F. St. Clair also assists the chief comedian. Maisie Danvers sings in good style, especially as the British officer'. Hull Daily Mail, 28 May 1918.
3 Jun 1918 Empire Theatre, Leeds Professional
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‘There is no rationing of fun at the Empire, where Robb Wilton, the principal comedian in Fred Karno’s revuette, “Rations,” provides plenty of good comedy. He is ably supported by Winnie Collins and others. The scenes include “The Meatless Butcher” and “Tank Day,” which provide a medley of mirth, music, and colour’. Leeds Mercury, 4 June 1918.
17 Jun 1918 Empire Theatre, Newport Professional
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The Western Mail, 19 June 1918, advertised at the Newport Empire ‘Fred Karno Presents Rob [sic] Wilton in Rations, A Revuette’, with supporting variety turns.
24 Jun 1918 Empire Theatre, Cardiff Professional
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The Western Mail 25 June 1918, advertised at the Cardiff Empire that night ‘Fred Karno Presents Robb Wilton in Rations, A Revuette (by Bert Lee and R. P. Weston), including A Queue of Quaint Quipsters and Winnie Collins. Latest War Pictures. Maggie Clifton and Partner. Queenie Leighton. Mary Law, The Celebrated English Violinist’.
1 Jul 1918 Hippodrome, Derby Professional
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‘Fred Karno’s reputation will not suffer by the entertainment which he presents at the Hippodrome this week in the shape of a miniature revue. It takes up more than half the bill, and if not as elaborate or ambitious as some of the productions that come within the same category, it answers very well the purpose of amusing the audience. It is entitled “Rations,” and is really a clever skit on the food difficulties of the present day. Fun is made of the rationing system in several of its phases, and it is such good fare that one can take offence at the quips that are made. In Mr. Ross [sic] Wilton we have a first-rate comedian, whose drolleries are irresistible, and he introduces many new jokes. Miss Winnie Collins is the principal girl, and she is excellent both in song and dance. They are well supported, notably by Miss Florence Palmer, Mr. Frank H. St. Clair, and Mr. Jack Mann. The incidents in the revue are quite original, and in this connection “Lady Hoardley’s Secret” deserves to be specially mentioned' (Derby Daily Telegraph, 2 July 1918). ‘One of the most amusing productions ever staged in Derby is to be seen at the Hippodrome this week. It is a revuette introduced by Fred Karno, and is entitled “Rations,” a term with which everyone has now become thoroughly familiar. In the piece everything is rationed, even kisses, and in the opening scene in the park that funniest of funny comedians, Ross [sic] Wilton, appears in the character of Kiss Controller, with Frank H. St. Clair as his assistant. The quips and jokes are new and sparkling, and Mr. St. Clair sings a very good song, “Peace time in Piccadilly.” Miss Winnie Collins, as the Flapper, also sings “Keep it dark” in very fine style. In the second scene the butcher’s shop is introduced, with Ross [sic] Wilton as the proprietor. He disposes of his customers in very summary fashion, and sings a song which is all his own, and for which he is very warmly applauded. The third scene, Lady Hoardley’s Secret, is very laughable, Miss Florence Palmer acting the part of the hoarder to perfection, whilst Wilton and St. Clair are the midnight burglars who discover her secret. In this scene Miss Winnie Collins assumes the rôle of sleep walker. She is a charming and graceful dancer, light as a sunbeam, and her clever acting is very greatly appreciated. The fourth and last scene takes a patriotic turn. It is Tank Day, and Wilton and Jack Mann are seen as a couple of British workmen who form part of a gang employed in laying a cable. In this scene Miss Collins and chorus sings “The wallpaper parade,” a pretty song and dance, which is a very successful feature of the show. Taking it on the whole, “Rations” is a popular and most successful production based upon the prevailing conditions of the times, all which are hit off capitally’ (Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 5 July 1918).
8 Jul 1918 Empire Theatre, Stratford Professional
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‘Heading the bill at the Empire, Stratford, is Fred Karno’s “Rations.” Robb Wilton is the comedian of the piece. The bill is completed by Kirkby and Hudson, the Mongadors, and Bell and Betty’. The People, 7 July 1918.
15 Jul 1918 Empire, Finsbury Park, London Professional
Read Narrative
‘Karno’s “Rations” is at the Finsbury Park Empire. Robb Wilton is chief comedian, supported by Winnie Collins. Daisy Dormer, Hayman and Franklin, and the Brooklyn Four, complete the bill’. The People, 14 July 1918; also a separate advertisement in the same newspaper.
22 Jul 1918 Hippodrome, Woolwich Professional
Read Narrative
The Era, 17 July 1918, advertised at the Woolwich Hippodrome in the week commencing 22 July ‘Fred Karno presents “Rations,” featuring Robb Wilton and Winnie Collins’, with supporting variety turns.
29 Jul 1918 Empire Theatre, New Cross, London Professional
Read Narrative
Robb Wilton advertised himself in The Era, 31 July 1918, as ‘Providing the Fun in Fred Karno’s Production, “Rations.” Empire, New Cross’.
5 Aug 1918 King's Theatre, Portsmouth Professional
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‘A screamingly funny “revuette,” entitled “Rations,” by Bert Lee and R. T. [sic – R. P.] Weston, will be presented at the King’s next week by Fred Karno. The pivot of the piece is Robb Wilton. one of the most original comedians on the stage, who will be supported by charming Winnie Collins and some quaint humorists. The six scenes are splendidly staged, especially the last, “Tank Day,” which provides a wonderful medley of mirth, music, and colour, with a fighting Tank as centrepiece’. Hampshire Telegraph, 2 August 1918.
12 Aug 1918 Empire Theatre, Nottingham Professional
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‘A topical revue entitled “Rations” - one of Fred Karno’s productions - holds pride of place on the Empire bill this week, and last evening made a big hit with the two large audiences. As the title denotes, the piece is an extravaganza based on the many rationing orders issued, and as such it is exceptionally clever burlesque. Robb Wilton, one of the best comedians ever associated with the Karno name, carries the success of the piece on his shoulders. He is the drollest of the droll, and never fails to keep his audience hard at work with their risible faculties. As the controller of “lip manipulation” he is screamingly funny, whilst in the role of war-time butcher he gets home with many witty and topical thrusts. Musically the revue depends on Miss Winnie Collins, a charming principal whose singing and dancing is one long delight’. Nottingham Journal, 13 August 1918.
19 Aug 1918 Palace Theatre, Manchester Professional
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‘In a mixed programme [at the Palace] “Rations” easily holds first place. The fun is a little broad, but it gets “right home.” Robb Wilton is a great success in the chief part. His drowsy, unctuous style would carry a less cleverly constructed revue to a profitable ending. Nixon Grey is another hit, and materially assisted in a capital evening’s entertainment’. Manchester Evening News, 20 August 1918.
26 Aug 1918 Theatre Royal, Dublin Professional
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‘In an all-round programme of excellence [at the Theatre Royal], the principal place is given to Fred Karno’s revuette “Rations.” The production was thoroughly enjoyed. There was no lack of merriment, which was chiefly dispensed by Robb Wilton. The revue is in five scenes, admirably produced and mounted’. Irish Independent, 27 August 1918.
2 Sep 1918 Royal Hippodrome, Belfast Professional
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Advertised in the Larne Times, 31 August 1918, as ‘Fred Karno presents “Robb Wilton in Rations,” a Revuette by Bert Lee and R. P. Weston, including a Queue of Quaint Quipsters, and Winnie Collins’, with supporting variety turns. Also, ‘Rationing is a condition of war-time affairs which mainly applies to people having the privilege of living in England, Scotland, and Wales, and by these the subject is one that is treated with befitting gravity. There is, however, a humorous side to the most serious of the conditions in which humanity may find itself placed, and this is cleverly brought out and exploited in the revuette “Rations” being presented by Fred Karno’s Company at the Hippodrome this week. The piece is amusingly written; the music is bright and racy, and the essential ingredients of revue in the way of song, dance settings, and costumes are all put up in the most approved Karno style, the leading parts being capably presented by Winnie Collins, Cissie Buckland, Beatrice Lambert, Donald MacKay, Jack Mann, Fred Simpson, and Bernard Sidney’ (Larne Times, 7 September 1918).
9 Sep 1918 Hippodrome, Birkenhead Professional
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‘Both houses [at the Birkenhead Hippodrome] on Monday evening enthusiastically appreciated Fred Karno’s timely production “Rations.” The piece is styled as a revuette, and has been written by Bert Lee in collaboration with R. P. Weston. There are five scenes, the first of which is set in a park and the main business transacted is the rationing of kisses. The dialogue is amusing throughout, and the other scenes wherein we find the autocratic butcher and the queue, and dame hoarders are interestingly conceived. The last scene is something of a patriotic one and cannot be complete without a tank. One can practically say that Robb Wilton, who plays many parts is the person responsible for the volumes of laughter. He has a personality which cannot fail to evoke a smile, and his audiences were thoroughly pleased. Miss Winnie Collins has some dainty songs, and as dainty a manner as one could wish for in the parts she has given to her. The remainder of the cast who are ably assisted by a vivacious chorus are Donald Mackay, Cissie Buckland, Bernard Sydney, Florence Palmer, Fred Simpson, F. Culmer, and Sydney and Laurie. The vaudeville items which preceded “Rations” were quite entertaining' (Birkenhead News, 11 September 1918).
16 Sep 1918 Grand Theatre, Hanley Professional
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‘There can be no two opinions about the “Rations” revue, Mr. Fred Karno’s latest wonderful production, on view at the Hanley Grand Theatre of Varieties this week. Novel in its setting, rich in its fun, thoroughly entertaining in its music, and altogether charming in its dressing, the revue is all that is claimed for it, and something more. There is never any flagging in the swing of it all, and the onlooker must have something seriously the matter if he is not invigorated and refreshed by the great diversion which it so happily provides in these times, when there is no better tonic than a good laugh. So seldom do we meet a revue possessing a title which is at all descriptive of the piece that “Rations” is to be welcomed as a revue which has been so rightly named that, from beginning to end, that is the one and only title it could ever have. It is all about rations, and its authors and producer must be complimented upon issuing the “rations” with so much appropriate sauce and flavouring as is supplied by the whole host of seasonable jokes and banter that run through the entire operation. There are five scenes, and the central figure in four of them is Mr. Robb Wilton, undoubtedly one of the best comedians seen at the Grand for a long time. That is saying a great deal, for his contemporaries are numerous, but it is, nevertheless, true. He is essentially a natural comedian, and he is essentially the central figure we have indicated. Excellent as is all the cast around him, he is, as they say at the Tribunals, the pivot man - the man who commences the fun and sees it through. First of all, he is seen at the Kiss Controller, a very official personage, who invades the park with “a proclamation for the elucidation of osculation,” and, with the assistance of his chief clerk or secretary, proceeds to explain to an amazed congregation of impressionable young ladies the meaning of kiss rationing. The issue of ration cards is an amusing affair, with “four pecks for Miss Bushel,” “one bite for Miss Fish,” “four squeezes for Miss Lemon,” and so forth. The Controller is inundated with difficult points that occur to the anxious feminine mind, but he is judicial in his replies, and not until he is asked, “If I have a kiss card and I have a husband, can deal where I like?” is he puzzled. But the answer is a triumph of officialism. Mr. Frank H. St. Clair is a very efficient Assistant Kiss Controller, and Miss Winnie Collins, as The Flapper, also does extremely well, and her song “Keep it Dark” is an enjoyable number. Miss Maisse Craig also contributes to the fun. In the second scene there is a typical representation of queue troubles outside the butcher’s shop, and, of course, the butcher is none other than Mr. Wilton, whose extravagant impersonation of an independent tradesman creates a great deal of laughter. “We open when we like” is the sign printed on the window blind, and the thought suggested is that that is the attitude with which he at present conducts all his business. He has all sorts of customers to worry him, however, but among those who come to upset him, none causes him more concern than the Bully, ably represented by Mr. Jack Mann. After a great deal of argument, in which the Bully is ever aggressive, the poor butcher is left in confusion, and if a poorer and a sadder man, he is certainly much wiser. Miss Collins, as the Persuasive One, Mr. Harry Davis as a very successful Nut, and Miss Florence Palmer as the irate customer, also figure in the scene, and find much approval. The third scene is a food hoarding farce, and is called “Lady Hoardley’s Secret,” in which Miss Palmer takes the title role with conspicuous ability. Lady Hoardley has enough food stowed away to last her 20 years, “when perhaps the war will be over,” but Bill (Mr. Wilton) and Gus (Mr. St. Clair) invade the privacy of her domicile, and unearth the hidden treasure. They provoke continuous hilarity by their eccentricities, and quite the best part of the scene surrounds the appearance of Miss Collins as the Sleepwalker. In scene four, Miss Collins sings in excellent style a new song, “Wear less clothes,” thus carrying the rationing idea further, until in the last scene of all there is provided a great advertisement for War Bonds, the whole setting being composed of savings appeals, and the top flies being neatly edged with bands of the well-known War Savings badge. There is a tank at the rear of the stage, and the audience are introduced to preparations for Tank Day. Mr. Robb Wilton impersonates Bill, the foreman on the job, who is assisted by Mr. Jack Mann, as Osmund, and Mr. Albert Bright, as the Lad. They successfully “accomplish nothing,” after a great deal of measuring up to make a hole in the street. Why the hole has to be made at all is not clear, but it is a Government job, and after at length agreeing where the hole shall be, the workmen get tied up in more ways than one, until the dinner-hour arrives, much to their relief, and without any actual start having been made. The workmen wax philosophical on various subjects, and Bill, surprised at Osmund’s ignorance, explains what War Savings are. “You have to pay 15s. 6d. in, and the Government give you £1 change,” he says. Mr. St. Clair, Mr. Billy Adams, and Mr. Harry Davis are responsible for further novelty, and Miss Collins appears as a very smart W.A.A.C. girl. The scene closes with the Wallpaper Parade, with Miss Collins as the leading actress and vocalist, and in this latest impression of economy in clothes is reached the climax of a magnificent entertainment' (Staffordshire Sentinel, 17 September 1918). ‘The artists and orchestra from the Grand Theatre, Hanley, kindly provided another capital entertainment at Stoke War Hospital on Friday afternoon, under the management of Mr. Bert Wilbraham and the musical direction of Mr. Cartmell, before a crowded audience of wounded soldiers ... The concluding item was the first scene from the revue, “Rations,” performed by the entire company, and produced immense fun and continuous shouts of laughter. The spontaneous jokes introduced by Mr. Wilton to suit the occasion convulsed the artists as well as the audience. Mr. Robb Wilton was excellently supported by Miss Winnie Collins, Miss Maisse, Craig, and Mr. Frank St. Clair and the ladies of the chorus' (Staffordshire Sentinel, 21 September 1918).
23 Sep 1918 Hippodrome, Boscombe Professional
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‘Rations do not necessarily signify shortage. A striking example of this is given at Boscombe Hippodrome this week where Fred Karno’s bright revuette “Rations” offers anything but a shortage in mirth and melody. Mr. Rob [sic] Wilton, the principal comedian, possesses a fund of dry humour quite irresistible, and if he be the Kiss Controller, the Butcher or the Road Maker, his appearance is a sure sign of loud laughter to follow. Bright and tuneful music runs throughout the production, and Miss Winnie Collins is a fascinating little actress responsible for several pleasing songs and dances'. Bournemouth Graphic, 27 September 1918.
7 Oct 1918 Hippodrome, Southend Professional
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Robb Wilton advertised himself in The Era, 9 October 1918, as ‘Providing the Fun in Fred Karno’s Production, “Rations.” Hippo., Southend’.
21 Oct 1918 Palace, Blackpool Professional
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‘Following upon the enormous success of last week’s revue, Fred Karno is this week presenting at the Palace Theatre, for the first time in Blackpool, his latest revuette, “Rations.” The book is from the pen of Bert Lee and R. P. Weston, and is one of the most laughable skits that we have had for some time. The company includes that successful comedian, Robb Wilton, who made such an outstanding success on his last visit to Blackpool as a variety artiste. He is one of our finest comedians, full of good humour and witty sayings. The ladies are headed by Miss Winnie Collins, a most pleasing and versatile artiste, who never fails to charm the audience if only by her daintiness. These two gifted artistes are admirably supported by what is aptly described as a “queue of quaint quipsters”’. Fleetwood Chronicle and Fylde Advertiser, 22 October 1918. ‘We regret to hear that Robb Wilton was taken ill during the week that “Rations” was playing at Blackpool. He was playing until Wednesday night, when he was attacked with the “‘flu,” which developed into pneumonia. It is good news to learn that Robb has taken a turn for the better, but it will be some time before he is well enough to resume his engagements’. The Era, 6 November 1918.
4 Nov 1918 Tivoli Theatre, Barrow-in-Furness Professional
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Robb Wilton advertised himself in The Era, 6 November 1918, as ‘Providing the Fun in Fred Karno’s Production, “Rations.” This Week, Tivoli, Barrow. Next, Tivoli, Aberdeen’.
11 Nov 1918 Tivoli Theatre, Aberdeen Professional
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‘Revue again holds the boards at the Tivoli, and there was but one opinion of the light, and airy “Rations” presented by Fred Karno’s capable company last night to crowded and delighted houses. With the thinnest texture of a story the revue runs pleasantly through five scenes, and the droll situations and amusing skit on the humorous side of rationing perplexities were provocative of the heartiest laughter. In the parts of Kiss Controller, the Butcher, and Bill, Fred Sinclair is a comedian of versatility, and his points never failed to score, his personations in the park, the butcher’s shop, Lady Hoardley’s secret, and Tank Day creating much merriment. He was ably supported by Donald Mackay, whose catchy song, “Peace Time in Piccadilly,” was topically appropriate. Of the ladies, Winnie Collins has the largest share of the work, and she does it uncommonly well and with captivating artistry. She sings three capital songs – “Keep it Dark,” “Wear less Clothes,” and “The Wallpaper Parade.” The other outstanding members of the company are Fred Simpson, Bernard Sydney, F. Slater, Mildred Darrell, and Florence Palmer. For “beauty” and singing ability, the chorus reaches a high standard, and altogether “Rations” may be accepted as a delightful contribution to the pleasures of “peace” evenings'. Aberdeen Evening Express, 12 November 1918.
25 Nov 1918 Empire Theatre, Middlesbrough Professional
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‘Fred Karno’s latest creation, the revuette “Rations,” is a bright and sparkling production, and should command a large measure of support during its stay in Middlesbrough. The outstanding personality is Tom Drew, an original comedian, who makes the audience rock with laughter, while the leading lady is the dainty Winnie Collins’. Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough, 26 November 1918.
2 Dec 1918 Empire, Sheffield Professional
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‘“Rations,” a typical Karno revue in five scenes, occupied a goodly portion of the Empire Palace programme, and was much appreciated. The company is not a big one, but its members are all good, and there are several really tuneful songs. Winnie Collins hit the popular fancy with “Peace Time in Piccadilly,” and Tom Drew was adequate as the chief comedian. Four variety turns completed the entertainment’. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 3 December 1918.
23 Dec 1918 Empire, Liverpool Professional
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‘Topping the list at the [Liverpool] Empire this week is a grand Fred Karno production, “Rations,” starring the eminent actor Tom Drew, who receives ample support from the well-known artistes Winnie Collins and Chas. Childerstone. Patrons need only glance at the name Fred Karno to gain a fair impression of the worth of the production. They will not be disappointed in the present instance’. Birkenhead News, 25 December 1918.
30 Dec 1918 Coliseum, Glasgow Professional
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The Daily Record, 30 December 1918, advertised at the Coliseum ‘Fred Karno Presents Tom Drew in Rations. A Queue of Quaint Quipsters, And Winnie Collins. A Clever Skit On War Conditions. Supported by All-Star Variety Programme’. Also, ‘The fun in Fred Karno’s “Rations,” presented at the Coliseum, is anything but rationed. It is there in generous abundance. Tom Drew is the chief mirth-provoker in this topical skit, while Winnie Collins sings and dances with great success' (Daily Record, 31 December 1918).
6 Jan 1919 Palace, Bath Professional
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The Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 4 January 1919, advertised next week at the Palace Theatre ‘Fred Karno presents Tom Drew in “Rations.” A Revuette by Bert Lee, Including A Queue of Quaint Quipsters, and Winnie Collins’.
13 Jan 1919 Palace, Plymouth Professional
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The Western Evening Herald, 11 January 1919, advertised on Monday 13 January 1919 and during the week at the Palace Theatre, Plymouth ‘Fred Karno presents Tom Drew in “Rations.” A Revuette by Bert Lee and R. P. Weston, including A Queue of Quaint Quipsters and Winnie Collins’.
3 Feb 1919 Olympia, Shoreditch Professional
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‘Fred Karno’s four-scene production. Rations, supplies the principal attraction in the Olympia programme this week, and is causing hearty laughter among capital audiences. The piece has undergone revision since its last appearances in town, and Tom Drew is now the principal comedian in place of Robb Wilton. Mr. Drew is the life and soul of the piece; his broad style and his keen sense of humour combining to make his performance thoroughly enjoyable. An additional item to the second scene is a capital duet, cleverly rendered by Mr. Drew and Winnie Collins, who remains in the cast as principal lady. Miss Collins has a splendid Golliwog number, which finishes upon a cleverly executed dance, and is loudly applauded. Much new business has been introduced into the last scene; while the present setting, which, by the way, has already seen service in another of Mr. Karno’s productions, certainly makes for improvement. It is difficult to apportion praise or criticism for the remainder of the company, as the programme omits all mention of their names’. The Stage, 6 February 1919.
17 Feb 1919 Empire Theatre, Barnsley Professional
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The Barnsley Independent, 15 February 1919, advertised at the Empire Palace, Barnsley, on Monday 17 February1919 and during the week ‘Fred Karno Presents Len Kilroy in Rations. A Revuette by Bert Lee and R. P. Weston, including A Queue of Quaint Quipsters and Winnie Collins’.
24 Feb 1919 New Empire, West Bromwich Professional
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The Stage, 20 February 1919, listed Fred Karno’s Rations at the West Bromwich Empire in Calls For Next Week.