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Lewis Waller as Henry V, Lyceum Theatre, London, 22 December 1900

July 11, 2014

Lewis Waller (1860-1915), English actor manager, as he appeared in the title role of his production of Henry V at the Lyceum Theatre, London, the first night of which was on Saturday, 22 December 1900.
(photo: Langfier Ltd, London, 1900)

‘Mr. Lewis Waller and Mr. William Mollison are sparing no effort in preparing for their production of Henry V., due to take place at the Lyceum on the evening of Saturday, December 22. The King Henry the Fifth of the occasion will be Mr. Lewis Waller; the Fluellen, Mr. E.M. Robson; Michael Williams will be Mr. J.H. Barnes, and Mr. William Mollison will play Ancient Pistol. The part of Princess Katherine of France will be taken by Miss Sarah Brooke, and Miss Lily Hanbury will impersonate the Chorus.’
(The Sunday Times, London, Sunday, 9 December 1900, p. 6a)

‘At the Lyceum Theatre, last Wednesday night [20 February 1901], the fiftieth performance of Henry V., was celebrated by the presentation to each member of the audience of a souvenir, which took the form of a series of a dozen full-length portraits of the chief members of the cast, admirably produced by Messrs. Langfier and Co. in a form which suggests finely-finished mezzotint engraving. These are in all cases admirable examples of the process of photogravure, the two portraits of Miss Hanbury as the Chorus being especially remarkable. As time goes on these records of memorable productions – permanent, artistic, and photographically accurate – will come to have a high value for the historian of the drama.
Henry V., I found, was going splendidly on Wednesday night; in conception the main impersonations could hardly be improved upon from what they were upon the occasion of the firt performance. But they had matured since then, and had acquired greater completeness in detail, and the general business of the drama played more closely.
‘The finest battle-piece ever painted! That is now one’s predominating impression of Henry V., as rendered at the Lyceum. It opens with a challenge scornfully proffered and nobly accepted; it proceeds to indicate the details of invasion as they appear to those engaged with them, from the prince to the camp-follower; it culminates in a crucial conflict and the victory of Agincourt. And, finally, as in old legends, the hand of a princess is the reward of the victor.
‘Mr. Lewis Waller’s Henry V. remains a magnificent impersonation, manly, vigorous and genial, Mr. Waller excelled himself, I thought, last Wednesday night, in his delivery of ”One more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,” and the demeanour of the soldiers that he was addressing struck me as being more natural and spontaneous there than it was upon the earlier occasion.
‘Mr. William Mollison’s Ancient Pistol is a masterpiece also, Mr. Mollison has divined a temperament for the unfortunate contemner of leeks, and has made a quite convincing human being of him as well as an infinitely diverting one. His apprehensive countenance, at the first appearance of the French soldier, and then, when he perceived that the poor fugitive was too disheartened to dream of resistance, the infinite swagger of his ”Yield, cur!” were delightful touches of comedy. The scene between Pistol and Fluellen was excellently played on both side, and Mr. J.H. Barnes’ Williams was throughout and admirable piece of work, the speech to the King, when the soldier discovers that it is he that he has unwittingly defied and criticised, was an especially fine piece of blunt, manly frankness. The ”dramatis personæ” upon the French side have lesser opportunities afforded them, but the Charles VI. of Mr. Bassett Roe, the Constable of Mr. William Devereux, and the Dauphin of Mr. Gerald Lawrence are all performances of great merit. The Princess Katherine of Miss Sarah Brooke is full of regal and maidenly charm, and Miss Lily Hanbury remains a most statuesque and impressive Chorus.’
(H.A.K. ‘Plays and Players,’ The Sunday Times, London, Sunday, 24 February 1901, p. 6a)

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