This is real acting that one pays one’s money to see, and not such an unblushing imposition as Miss Tree practises upon us. Do we go to the play to see nature? of course not: we only desire to see the actors playing at being natural, like Mr. Gallot, Mr. Howe, Mr. Worral, or Mr. Kean, and other actors. This system of being too natural will, in the end, be the ruin of the drama. It has already driven me from the Stage, and will, I fear, serve the great performers I nave named above in the same manner. But the Haymarket Juliet overdoes it; she is more natural than nature, for she makes one or two improbabilities in the plot of the play seem like every-day matters of fact. Whether she falls madly in love at the first glance, agrees to be married the next afternoon, takes a sleeping draught, throws herself lifeless upon the bed, or wakes in the tomb to behold her poisoned lover, still in all these situations she behaves like a sensible, high-minded girl, that takes such circumstances, and makes them appear to the audience—quite as a matter of course! What let me ask, was the use of the author—whose name, I believe, was Shakspere—purposely contriving these improbabilities, if the actors do not make the most of them? I do hope Miss Tree will no longer impose upon the public by pretending to act Juliet. Let her try some of the characters in Bulwer’s plays, which want all her help to make them resemble women of any nation, kindred, or country.
Much as I admire Kean, I always prefer the acting of Wallack; there is more variety in the tones of his voice, for Kean tunes his pipes exactly as my long-drummer sets his drum;—to one pitch: but as to action, Wallack—more like my drummer—beats him hollow; he points his toes, stands a-kimbo, takes off his hat, and puts it on again, quite as naturally as if he belonged to the really legitimate drama, and was worked by strings cleverly pulled to suit the action to every word. Wallack is an honest performer; he don’t impose upon you, like Webster, for instance, who as the Apothecary, speaks with a hungry voice, walks with a tottering step, moves with a helpless gait, which plainly shows that he never studied the part—he must have starved for it. Where will this confounded naturalness end?
The play is “got up,” as we managers call it, capitally. The dresses are superb, and so are the properties. The scenery exhibited views of different parts of the city, and was, so far as I am a judge, well painted. I have only one objection to the balcony scene. Plagiarism is mean and contemptible—I despise it. I will not apply to the Vice-Chancellor for an injunction, because the imitation is so vilely caricatured; but the balcony itself is the very counterpart of PUNCH’S theatre!—PUNCH.
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