Actress Kemble triumphs in another Shakespeare reading.
February 14th, 1847
Fanny Kemble continues to amaze us with her craft onstage. In the words of an avid admirer who has been watching her perform for ten years, she is “like a firecracker, she constantly sparks with her ability to be the characters in the plays.” Yes, we can all look back at the time she made her first appearance as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. “You can tell she has grown.”
In an interview, Kemble has compared to her outlook on acting then to how it is now. “When I started out, I saw myself playing Juliet. But I had it all wrong. Now it’s all about being the character, slipping into her mind and adopting everything about her- her emotions, habits, and personality.” That wasn’t always easy; when one takes a look at the gentle, fair Kemble, one sees that she is far from Lady Macbeth. “I had an intense preparation for that role,” she points out. “VERY intense. I had myself cooped up at home with little light as possible and nothing to eat except a small portion of bread and water. The hunger in Lady Macbeth’s eyes was from my starvation; I used this hunger to wretch after power, just the thing she desired.”
This time she transported audiences into the magical world of Oberon and Titania and their fairy subjects in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Audiences noted her warbling vocals came into handy as she read for Titania’s train. “She was able to recreate the enchanted forest, just by being on a stage with the text in hand,” recalls an attendant. “We saw everything from the looming trees to the adorable little creatures out at play.” Everyone seems to agree Titania’s passage during the argument with Oberon was a highlight. The whole time she stood, poised and elegant, her back straight and chin up, capturing the unafraid attitude of the fairy queen, beginning with the line, “Set you heart at rest.” Her voice had accompanying thunder which captivated audiences.
Titania refuses to give Oberon the Indian Child. Fanny Kemble recited this very scene with a major difference- she was of course clothed!
Kemble’s performance is indeed elaborate, with no set, costumes, or other company. One thing is guaranteed- no one shall ever sleep through it!