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Charles Kean

December 31, 2012

Charles Kean’s reappearance as Hamlet at the Princess’s Theatre, London, Wednesday, 3 January 1855 (photo: published by T.H. Lacy, London, late 1850s)

‘Mr. C. Kean appeared on Wednesday night, for the first time this season, in Hamlet – a character which he has long since made his own – and in which he stands unrivalled amongst living artists. The house, as might have been expected on such an occasion, was crowded in every quarter soon after the doors opened. There is much to occupy the public mind at present of a more grave character than mere amusement; the performance that commands such powerful attraction at such a moment proclaims its own strength, and speaks a volume of criticism on its own inherent merit. Mr. C. Kean, by time and study, has improved on his original vigour and elegance in this great part, and was applauded with as much enthusiasm in all the most striking passages as during his first successful career at Drury-lane, in 1839 [sic]. The tragedy was well played throughout, Miss [Caroline] Heath was a highly-interesting Ophelia, while Mr. [John] Ryder and Mrs. [Alfred] Phillips imported the importance so often wanted when inferior actors are placed in the characters of the King and Queen. Mr. [Walter] Lacy made a most impressive and majestic Ghost.’ (The Illustrated London News, London, Saturday, 6 January 1855, p.11a)

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