Behind the Scenes with Edwin Booth

By Katherine Molony Goodale | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVIII
EDWIN BOOTH PLAYS OTHELLO FOR ME

THE house darkened! I heard the warning bell, the curtain bell -- a hush -- a pause, and the curtain rose.

Mr. Barron is at home in Iago but the rest of the company is keyed up. They, as well as we, are waiting for that one moment -- of Othello's entrance. Then the moment is come!

There is an intake of breath at this apparition of poetry before the great burst of applause. Already his physical charm is telling, and already, as always, Mr. Booth has let his make-up define the limitations within which he will portray his character. He has given himself romantic scope for his Othello. The instant he is seen, he has won the sympathy of his audience. They each and every one -- one feels it -- fall in love with him, even as Desdemona.

As Othello he uncovered his heart throbs, his fevered pulses, his coursing blood, before he had spoken one word -- even as he made them see his soul in Hamlet before he spoke. Every one settles down as if suppressing a sigh of bliss.

They can understand Desdemona's infatuation for this Othello. They share it. The play is to be a lovestory to clutch the heart; a sort of married Romeo and Juliet -- at least until the murder! But the plot is so reasonable, all at once! Desdemona's love unescapably natural.

-211-

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