Vol. 78, No. 1

pp. 1-84, 2024


  1. "Blackguardism" and "Surrey fooleries"? David Osbaldiston's Management of Covent Garden, 1835-37

    Stephen Ridgwell

    In February 1828, David Osbaldiston was en route to the Brunswick Theatre in Wellclose Square, Whitechapel. Shortly before reaching his destination, the actor was met with tragic news. Just three days after its opening night, the Brunswick’s ceiling had collapsed leaving over thirty people dead or badly injured. So began a dramatic career in the capital spanning three decades and five other theatres. Especially effective in action-centred roles such as William Tell and Rob Roy, Osbaldiston could also write. His final effort, Catherine of Russia; or, The Child of the Storm, was seen by Henry Mayhew at a crowded Old Vic in November 1850. Never known to undersell himself, Osbaldiston played Peter the Great (Mayhew: 19). Osbaldiston combined these labours with a series of largely successful actor-managements. Mostly associated with London’s sprawling network of minor theatres — most notably south of the Thames at the Surrey (1828-1834) and the Victoria (1841-1850) — for two years in the 1830s he was at the heart of the theatrical establishment as the lessee of Coven Garden, the royally-patented counterpart to Drury Lane.


  2. An Unknown Painting of Macklin as Shylock?

    Laurence Senelick

    Some years ago i acquired an eighteenth-century painting by Edward Alcock. it depicts Act 3 Scene 1 in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in which Tubal updates shylock on his daughter’s elopement with a chest of jewels, and the loss of Antonio’s ships at sea. Since Alcock is already known for a painting reputed (erroneously, in some current opinion) to be the Irish actor Charles Macklin (1699-1797) and his daugher Maria (c. 1733-1781), portrayed as Shylock and Portia, I was curious to know if any acquisition might be an overlooked depiction of the actor at one of the most renowned moments in his performance.


  3. Performing Masculinity: The Toy Theatre Playbooks of Hodgson & Company, London, 1822-1824

    Margaret Lock

    This article examines the Juvenile Dramas (playbooks for toy theatres) produced by a prolific juvenile publisher, Hodgson & Company, from 1822 to 1824. These 54 Juvenile Drams are rarely straightforward abridgements of the published playbooks of contemporary stage performances. The changes in the text often enhance the character of the hero, making him the epitome of martial masculinity. This could be explained as the publisher catering to the schoolboy users of toy theatres. However, analysis of the choice of plays for the Juvenile Dramas, and of the additions to their texts, reveals a further, and unsuspected, political agenda. many of the heroes and their supporters uphold distinctly Whig political ideas and liberal values. As a result, about two-thirds of the Juvenile Drams promote a broadly Whig world-view, and some even endorse a radical Whig agenda. Because those who uphold liberal, Whiggish principles are admirable characters, they counter the negative public image of the Whigs. Tory propaganda continued to repeat stereotypes from the 1790s, that portrayed Whigs as atheists, free-thinkers, libertines, the unpatriotic supporters of French Jacobins and regicides. In contrast, the Juvenile Drams present Whigs as the kind of chivalric, combative heroes likely to appeal to schoolboys.



Victorian Entertainment: Perils of the Victorian Stage, and The Hazardous World of Victorian Entertainment: Jeopardy within the Victorian Theatre by Alan & Brenda Stockwell (review)

reviewed by Jim Davis

Romantic Comedy by Trevor R. Griffiths (review)

reviewed by Matthew Franks

“Blackguardism” and “Surrey fooleries”? David Osbaldiston’s Management of Covent Garden, 1835-37, by Stephen Ridgwell

* An Unknown Painting of Macklin as Shylock?, by Laurence Senelick

Performing Masculinity: The Toy Theatre Playbooks of Hodgson & Company, London, 1822-1824, by Margaret Lock

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TN 78 1 Macklin as Shylock


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