Described as a 'bright musical review in which 'George settles the Eastern problem' (Age 4 Jan. 1930, p.20), the story revolves around the shooting of the Oojah Bird, a terrible predatory creature of the skies that has previously devoured the son of a sultan. A bold but bad English hunter offers to kill the bird, but secretly plans to steal the sultan's jewels instead. Among the hunter's party are his wife, the irresponsible Horace (played by George Wallace), and Archie from Piccadilly. A secondary plot sees the hunter impart to Horace his suspicions that his wife is showing too much interest in the sultan (a situation that is said to have provided plenty of amusing dialogue). 'An affair of honour involving a duel with pistols between Horace and the Piccadilly Boy', records the Brisbane Courier, 'has a sensational ending, when the redoubtable Horace fires his pistol above his head and to his own surprise brings down the Oojah Bird. In his gratitude for the destruction of the dreaded bird the Sultan abdicates in favour of Horace, who disports himself in the royal throne, surrounded by his wives, with the regal airs of a Solomon, and the revue ends in a gale of laughter' (25 January 1926, p.11).
In its review of the 1930 Tivoli revival, renamed Harem Scarem, the Age records:
The comedian's best scenes were those with Gwen Matthews at a mock banquet, attempting as Horace to learn the duties of a waiter, and when he stood over the footlights to talk intimately with the audience. For a man who has worked as a cane cutter, done fencing in the bush and fought as a pugilist in the ring, George Wallace's behaviour among the temptations of a harem is decidedly refined. His worst offence was that of an unbeliever touching the bare arm of Una, the Sultan's favourite wife, for which, in the code of the Orient, he was entitled to be shot at dawn (6 January 1930, p.11).
The Argus reports that, in addition to the giant bird of prey, the Sultan's kingdom was also plagued by lions, 'which [were] occasionally disposed of with startling explosions off-stage' (6 January 1930, p.12).
Included among musical items in 1925 were 'I am the Sultan' (sung by Marshall Crosby), 'Rebecca from Mecca' (Lulla Fanning and chorus), 'A Hunter Bold' (Frank Haining and chorus), 'Ethel' (written and sung by George Wallace), and 'If Love Were All' (Marie Nyman). For the 1930 production, Baby Myrtle Gourlay sang 'Broadway Melody.' Other musical numbers included 'Persian Market', 'Popular Melody', and 'Old South Patrol.'
In assessing George Wallace's performance during the 1930 revival, the Argus critic records that the party of hunters 'gives opportunity for the introduction of a good deal of singing, dancing by the ballet, and comedy of the vigorous school to which Mr Wallace belongs. His antics, his peculiar hoarseness and his quips, which introduced such unexpected subjects as elephants in Footscray, greatly amused the audience... Judging by the enthusiasm with which Harem Scarem - and indeed the whole programme - was received the shadow of the talkies and the theatre slump did not rest very darkly on the Tivoli' (6 January 1930, p.12).
1924: Majestic Theatre, Newtown, Sydney, 11-17 October.
1925: Fullers' Theatre, Sydney, 9-15 May.
1925: Bijou Theatre, Melbourne, 18-24 July.
1925: Empire Theatre, Brisbane, 10-16 October (return season: 23-29 January 1926).
1926: Bijou Theatre, Melbourne, 25-31 December.
1928: Bijou Theatre, Melbourne, 6-12 October.
1930: Tivoli Theatre, Melbourne, 4-10 January (as Harem Scarem).