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Review of the 1884 revival from The Times

Monday, September 8, 1884


Miss Mary Anderson opened her second season at the Lyceum on Saturday night in her now familiar impersonations of the animated statue in Pygmalion and Galatea and Clarice in Comedy and Tragedy. So far as a first night audience could furnish a test of popularity, there appeared to be no falling-off in the actress’s physical attractiveness, which has always been and must apparently continue to be the principal element in her success. In some respects her rendering of both parts has improved, though her performance, artistically considered, is still by no means remarkable or exceptional. She has gained, since her first appearance here, a better grasp of detail in the working out of character and a more impulsive or less mechanical mode of expressing different shades of feeling.

Galatea’s innocent wonderment at the strange conditions of life gradually revealed to her could hardly be more naively portrayed, nor can her affectation of terror at the supposed murderous proclivities of Pygmalion’s soldier-friend, Leucippe, be pronounced ineffective, at all events for the purposes of Mr. Gilbert’s play, which, with its pseudo-classical character, is nothing more than a long-drawn-out and somewhat attenuated pleasantry, in which no genuine passion of any sort finds a place. If there is a pathetic side to Galatea’s resolve to return to a condition of stone, quitting the world where her existence has been productive of nothing but misery to herself and others, Miss Anderson does not make us feel it. The “farewell, Pygmalion,” that comes from behind the curtain as Galatea remounts her marble pedestal is grotesquely tragic rather than touching, couched as it is in a curiously deep bass note that occurs at intervals in Miss Anderson’s enunciation.

A new cast lends the actress adequate support. Mr. Terriss is an earnest and manly Pygmalion, who puts a due leaven of humour into his “asides;” Miss Myra Holme is conscientious rather than strong as the jealous wife, Cynisca; Mr. W. Rignold is a robust Leucippe; Miss Grace Arnold acquits herself gracefully as Pygmalion’s sister; and Mr. Kemble and Miss Sophie Larkin as Chrysos and his wife, the art patrons, furnish an admirable contrast to the pleasanter features of the play.

As Clarice in Comedy and Tragedy Miss Anderson continues to exhibit classical pose as a substitute for the elegance and distinction naturally appertaining to an actress of the Comédie Français in the ceremonious days if the Regency. With that, however, the public appear to be abundantly satisfied.

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