"THE DRAMA IN AMERICA", Era, July 18, 1858

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"THE DRAMA IN AMERICA", Era, July 18, 1858


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
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This is primarily a review of Charlotte Cushman's performance as Lady Gay Spanker in the play London Assurance, but also generally remarks on her acting—especially in the roles of Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, and Mrs. Haller in The Stranger. It claims that she is not "feminine" enough for these roles and her portrayal lacks "womanliness", and in the end, especially her Lady Macbeth is "more like a bad man" as opposed to a misguided woman, that the article argues, the character is supposed to be.


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NIBLO'S GARDENS.—There have been marvellous audiences here to witness the last performances. Not only have the seats been full, but standing room has been at a premium, even on the staircases. This is another example of the influence of a really great name. Miss Cushman's Katharine, Meg Merrilies, and Juliet are too well known to require any remark, though, perhaps, some felt that the time was coming when the latter part might fitly be given up. Her Lady Macbeth is equally well known, and generally applauded. As it is it strikes us as being just a little overdone, and wanting in womanliness. The impersonation is that of an awful woman, without a touch of softness, and hardly realizes to us the character of her who could not kill the sleeping king because he reminded her of her father; and whose mind broke down under the recoil of her crime. Shakspere's Lady Macbeth is rather impulsive than strong, and is marked by that feminine sensitiveness which makes women accede to either good or evil influences. Miss Cushman is more like a bad man. In The Stranger the great actress does not appear to the best advantage. The part of Mrs. Haller hardly suits her. That heroine should be a type of feminine grace and softness, whilst the best points of Miss Cushman are her vigour and energy, physical and mental. We know that there are many who will dissent from these views, but few will differ from us when we say that Miss Cushman's comedy shows but poorly beside her tragedy. We had a proof of this on Monday evening, when she appeared in London Assurance as Lady Gay Spanker. Those who remember Mrs. Nisbett will recognise the distance between her dashing, rattling, scapegrace, who, in her wildest freaks, was always a lady—and the ruder, rougher, coarser, and less piquante Lady Gay of Miss Cushman. Mr. Placide was the Sir Harcourt Courtley, but he was hardly a good representative of the gallant old English gentleman either in dress or bearing. Meddle was poorly played by Blake, who made the obsequious, crafty, cringing lawyer, a mere buffoon. Brougham was good as Dazzle; and John Gilbert was at least an average Max Harkaway, though hardly bluff enough. Grace Harkaway was respectably played by Miss Devlin; but Mr. Davenport's Charles Courtley was by far the best of the whole.



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London, England

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“"THE DRAMA IN AMERICA", Era, July 18, 1858,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed February 21, 2024, https://www.archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/655.

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