Hey guys, thought I'd just share a newspaper report from the Guardian in 1825.
From the archive: Theatre Royal – Richard II, with Mr. Kean
Originally published on September 3 1825
On Saturday night last, Shakspeare's play of Richard II was performed, the part of Richard by Mr. Kean, previous to his departure for America. The character is heavy in representation, and requires talent of the very highest order to prevent its being felt tedious by the audience: and it is therefore no slight compliment to the talents of Mr. Kean to say that he kept alive the interest of the piece to the last.
The irresolute changeable monarch was exhibited with great force and truth, while the reflecting and moralizing parts, which, from the lips of an inferior performer, would have been scarcely endurable, were, by Mr. Kean's varied and pointed delivery, made the most interesting part of the performance. After being accustomed to listen to the monotonous declamation so common in our theatres, where every succeeding sentence is, with the view of making it tell, given the same degree of effort as that which preceded it, and consequently where nothing tells forcibly, it is a high treat to hear the fine language of Shakspeare from the mouth of Kean.
In the after-piece of Of Age To-Morrow, the part of Frederick Baron Willinghurst was undertaken by Mr. Kean, and in it he certainly displayed sufficient versatility. He sang, danced, and even tumbled, being apparently inclined to amuse himself as well as the audience. The dignity of the great tragedian was put aside for the broadest farce – an experiment of the policy of which we cannot help doubting.
The house was tolerably well filled, but not crowded; and there were only about 20 ladies in the lower boxes. After the falling of the curtain, there was a loud and pretty general cry for Mr. Kean, to which, for a long time, he appeared to pay no attention. The call, however, continued without intermission for about a quarter of an hour, at the end of which time he made his appearance. Whether he had spent the interval between the falling of the curtain and his return to the stage in libations to the rosy god, or from whatever other cause it might happen, certain it is, that when he made his appearance in obedience to the call of the house, he was in that state which is technically termed "half seas over".
Though a very good actor, Mr. Kean is, in his soberest moments, a very indifferent speech-maker, and on this occasion his oratorial powers evidently laboured under considerable obscuration. However he "did address himself to speech," and uttered a pretty considerable quantity of nonsense which we shall not trouble ourselves with repeating.
A completely pointless post now, but the way he writes is very interesting, compared to now. I wonder how we'll be typing in another 184 years...