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Mary Anderson in A Winter’s Tale, Lyceum Theatre, London, 1887

September 3, 2013

Mary Anderson (1859-1940), American actress, as she appeared as Perdita in a revival of A Winter’s Tale, at the Lyceum Theatre, London, 10 September 1887. Other members of the cast were Johnston Forbes-Robertson as Leontes, F.H. Macklin as Polixenes, Fuller Mellish as Florizel, George Warde as Antigonus, Charles Collette as Autolycus and Sophie Eyre as Paulina.
(Henry Van der Weyde, London, 1887)

‘Miss Anderson’s Perdita is much better than her Hermione, though the exquisite beauty of the verse is very far indeed from being realised, and there is a lack of that simplicity which should be the leading feature of the dainty maiden. … The performance will certainly not enhance the reputation of Miss Mary Anderson among lovers of Shakespeare, nor is it likely to add to the popularity of A Winter’s Tale as a stage play.’
(The Standard, London, Monday, 12 September 1887, p. 2f)

‘… A spirit of distaste and hostility pervaded the auditorium during the whole evening. This resulted in part from the fact that the pit space had been contracted for the enlargement of the stalls. This was resented by the occupants of the cheaper portions of the house, the more angry of whom attempted to ”guy” the opening of several scenes; and this doubtless added to the nervousness inseparable from a first-night representation. So little respect did the ”gods” show for the ”immortal bard” and his works, that audible laughter greeted the several appearances of the ”pretty bairn” in swaddling clothes, and in the intervals between the frequent ”tableaux,” the unruly deities, recognising Mr Cody in a private box greeted ”Buffalo Bill” with a series of shrill Indian yells. Such a moral atmosphere is as little consistent with the calm enjoyment of the literary and poetical beauties of Shakespeare’s verse as its often indistinct delivery by unpractised lips; and the attitude of a certain portion of the audience had an infectious influence on the remainder. These circumstances contributed to make the evening an ”unlucky” one, and therefore it is impossible to predict the future fortunes of this revival of The Winter’s Tale. That Miss Mary Anderson’s popularity is in no way diminished was shown by the warm reception she had on her first entry, and by the hearty calls for her between the acts, and at the conclusion of the performance. There is no doubt that many who take little interest in Hermione and Perdita may visit the Lyceum to see again the lovely and clever young actress known across the Atlantic by the affectionate title of ”Our Mary.”’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 17 September 1887, p. 14b)

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