|Arnold Pilbeam as Filch from "The Beggar's Opera," 1920|
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This Staffordshire figure by an unknown artist depicts early Twentieth Century actor Arnold Pilbeam as the character of “Filch” from Nigel Playfair's celebrated revival of John Gay's “The Beggar's Opera” which opened at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith in June of 1920. The production was designed by Claud Lovat Fraser with music re-written and supplemented by Frederic Austin. This ballad opera featuring traditional tunes and took London by storm.
The revival ran for over three years to much acclaim and its popularity spawned a surprising number of figurines in porcelain and wax representing moments from the show. This figure is an excellent example of the type of souvenirs produced during the run of the show. Here, the character stands in a lime green full-length coat much like the actual costume worn in the show.