May 28, 2013

Miss Varcoe (fl. late 1860s/early 1870s), actress/dancer
(carte de visite photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, circa 1870)

Identified simply as ‘Varcoe,’ the sitter in this photograph is probably the Miss Varcoe who is first mentioned as appearing as one of the supernumeraries in Turko the Terrible; or, The Fairy Roses, an extravaganza written by William Brough, with a ballet arranged by Kiralfy, which was product at the Theatre Royal, Holborn, on 26 December 1868. The cast included Fanny Josephs and George Honey, supported in minor parts by Kate Love (the mother of Mabel Love), Eliza Weathersby and others. Miss Varcoe also appeared in The Corsican ‘Brothers’; or, The Troublesome Twins, a burlesque extravaganza by H.J. Byron, produced at the Globe Theatre, London, on 17 May 1869; and La Belle Sauvage, a burlesque, adapted from J. Brougham’s Pocohontas, and produced at the St. James’s Theatre, London, on 27 November 1869.

It is possible that this Miss Varcoe is the Agnes Varcoe who in early 1871 successfully brought a charge of assault against Elizabeth Alleyne, the manageress of the Globe Theatre, London, for having abused her behind the scenes there during a performance on Boxing Night, 1870. The production was a revival of Palgrave Simpson’s drama, Marco Spada, the first night of which took place on Saturday, 1 October 1870. The case was widely reported in the Press. The controversial Mdme. Colonna and her troupe of dancers were introduced into the piece towards the end of the same month.

* * * * *

‘Madame Colonna and her “troupe dansante,” whose peculiar evolutions at the Alhambra so provoked the indignation of the Middlesex magistrates as to lead to the withdrawal of the dancing license from that establishment, have been engaged at Miss Alleyne’s theatre. It is hardly necessary to say that in their new sphere of action these noted performers no longer indulge either in the “can can” or any similar saltations. They appear in a so-called “Dance of Brigands” in the concluding act of Mr. Palgrave Simpson’s drama of “Marco Spade;” and though their performances are not always in the best “form” – to use the strange phrase of the day – they are in most cases agile and spirited, and in the instance of one dancer even graceful and expressive. They are so decorous also as to the void of offence in the estimation of the most fastidious. If any ballet is to be tolerated there is no reason why this should be objected to on any plea of decorum. Madame Colonna and her associates are received with enthusiasm, and their dance is clamorously encored.’
(The Morning Post, London, Tuesday, 1 November 1870, p. 2d)


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