Page images

the other is “too full o' the milk of human kindness, to catch the nearest way." Barry murders like a novice, while Woodhull does his work with the easy self-possession of a professional gentleman. In the end, too, when poetical justice comes to be awarded, they consistently die in character---the one marches to the gallows as “cool as a cucumber,” while the other in some fit of repentance, cheats the law by bursting a blood-vessel, or going off in a fit of apoplexy. For the truth of all this we appeal to nine-tenths of the melo-dramas that have been or may be enacted at the Park theatre, in which these gentlemen have heretofore appeared or may hereafter appear.

Mr. Barry is an actor with many faults, but still one that may safely be called a good actor-a title which, when fairly deserved, a man may be proud of, for it implies the possession of much and varied ability. He is a good actor, and there is nothing to prevent his being a better. Nature has given him a handsome face, a graceful person, and a full and mellow voice. Added to these advantages, his conception of his part is generally correct, and his execution spirited. The great fault of Mr. Barry is exaggeration-exaggeration in every variety of shape; but principally exaggeration in action, and this pervades, more or less, every thing he does. When he should be out of temper, he is in a passion, and when he should be in a passion, he is in a frenzy; when he should tremble for a moment, he kes for a minute; and when flourishing a sword or any thing else, where once would do, he invariably does it twice; and so on, even to the veriest trifle, the same spirit exists. In some parts he is a complete fever and ague; and in characters where he has to look upon a spectre, an injured friend, or any thing of that sort, he daubs his face -particularly under the eyes with some vile composition which gives him the appearance of an animated corpse : a new way, we presume of painting the passions. When Mr. Barry has a mind, he can do what not one in a hundred can, that is, read poetry properly. He pronounces distinctly, minds bis stops, accentuates his words with judgment, and modulates the tones of his voice with good effect; but let any of the dramatis persona put this same Mr. Barry in a passion, and off he goes, laying, without discretion, a most astounding emphasis on every second or third word, which makes the dialogue jolt along like a hard-trotting horse; a proceeding which gains him a good deal of applause and no credit.


We have now found all the fault we can consistently with truth, with Mr. Barry, and have dwelt

so much the longer on what we consider his failings, because he has good qualities enough to make it well worth while to tell him of his bad ones; and moreover, because those bad ones are of such a nature as could be easily amended. With all his imperfections on his head," he has few equals, and no superior here as a melo-dramatic actor ; and there are parts of a higher grade where his besetting sins are kept under by the nature of the character; such as the Duke Aranza, in the Honey Moon, which, we think he plays better than any man in the country. There is also a species of genteel comedy in which he is very agreeable.

We have but little space left for remarks on that much-enduring man, Mr. Woodhull. And what can be said of him, more than that he is one of the most useful and ill-used actors that ever trod the boards of a theatre! Who can particularize Mr. Woodhull's line of character ? It is enough to make the head ache to think of what he has to go through in a single month. A few weeks ago we hinted at his blood-thirsty propensities on the stage, and he still goes on adding to his dramatic crimes; qut this is only a single branch of his extensive business. He plays old misers and young spendthrifts, greybeards and lovers, walking gentlemen and half-pay officers, soldiers, sailors, Irishmen, VOL. II.



Scotchmen, Dutchmen, Jews, Gentiles, French tailors and Indian savages; and all this work is done without offence; and most of it with satisfaction to the audience. What incalculable quantities of trash have to pass through his unfortunate brain and be impressed upon his memory! What floods of nonsense have to issue from his mouth! Night after night, week after week, month after month, and year after year-in play, in interlude, and in farce, there is Mr. Woodhull! and yet, notwithstanding the wear and tear that his intellect must have suffered from such courses, untouched-his sense continues perfect, and he yet goes through his multifarious business with more propriety and rationality than many a wouldbe star.

his brain appears MRS. HILSON.

There is no actress who has run the risk of injuring a well-earned reputation more than this lady. She plays all and every thing; and though we should be the last to advocate the whims and airs of actors, in refusing parts which they consider beneath them, or unsuited to their abilities, yet there is no reason why any of them should absolutely sacrifice themselves in the cause of the theatre. We have seen Mrs. Hilson, in a short space of time, play Ophelia, Dolly Bull, and Lady Macbeth, together with various other incongruities; yet, in our estimation, Mrs. Hilson is by no means a lady of versatile abilities. She has not the faculty of mobility, and, except in a limited degree, is not at home either in comedy, tragedy, or farce;-and yet there are a hundred parts in which she is far superior to any one else. When we remark that Mrs. Hilson is not at home either in comedy, tragedy, or farce, we mean in the broad and extreme parts of each. Nature has denied her the physical requisites for such efforts, and the exhibition of violent passions or emotions of any kind is not her forte; but in

« PreviousContinue »