Academic journal article Theatre Notebook

Irving and a Dead Body

Academic journal article Theatre Notebook

Irving and a Dead Body

Article excerpt

If Henry Irving's discussion with Dr George Stoker about carrying off the dead body of Paris extended to influencing the Richardson/Olivier corpse removal in 1945, briefly discussed by Thomas E. Band in Theatre Notebook, 61, 2007, 111, the later participants may also have known the practical illustration of Stoker's advice revealed in Frederick Drummond Niblett's caricature version, published in 1887(?), of Irving's favourite recitation, Thomas Hood's The Dream of Eugene Aram.

Although this was five years after the Lyceum production of Romeo and Juliet (1882) the method must have had some currency to inspire Niblett. Originally Harry Loveday the stage manager took part in a body carrying experiment. In this Irving, described by Stoker as 'a thin, spare man', was able to heave a twelve stone Bram Stoker over his shoulder. Possibly other members of the backstage staff were present. George Stoker's demonstration of lifting by the legs over his shoulders took place ten days later after supper, and made Irving laugh heartily. Both methods were rejected as unsuitable.

Any special links for Niblett (1861-1928) with the theatre are unknown, but an F.T. Niblett was an electrician at the Lyceum for the pantomime in 1894, and elsewhere. …

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