The famous diarist reflects on a week of rehearsals for The Compleat Female Stage Beauty.
This week has seen the players assemble and us to the rehearsal room to produce a show. And a mighty fine one it is, with costume and goodly musik and the much showing of legs from the actresses etc. The Company is Mappa Mundi and a diverse and goodly sort they are, being made up of players young and old, musikians, and some sundry sorts who bring tea, wigs and make the settings – which are mighty fine and full of colour and as any I have seen. Of the actors, there is an Italian gentleman, Mr Pandolfo, who performs in travesty and is as pretty a woman as any I have seen; his voice, eyes and graces etc being turned to the feminine with such precision. There is Mr Tobin – a comic turn- whose studies in mirth and humour are as fine as any one might expect in one from Liverpool and there is Mr Downing, Mr Self and Mr Nichols (who does play the King), all of whom are fine gentlemen and act with appropriate gestures and emotion, viz. love, anger, fear, jealousy etc etc.
But chief among my pleasures are the Ladies. A pretty garden of flowers are assembled here and there is much laughter in among the tantrums and the tears, which is behaviour expected amongst the weaker sex etc. Mrs Seymour, an accomplished actress and much given to her performances of Tragedies and woman parts like Cleopatra the Egyptian Queen, poor Ophelia, the one without the hands, and Lady M, is wonderful varied and never ceases to arouse in me deep passions which rush upon me quite unexpected. There is Mrs Kilpatrick and Miss Philips, new to the company, but with much wit and humour as well as a fine a leg and bosom as I have ever seen! And there is pretty witty Mali T-J who is all wit and conversation and the time I pass with her is goodly and lewd and full of jest and no littler learning etc etc.
Prompt books in hand, the players have set upon rehearing the scenes of diverse aspect with all the appropriate gestures, inflection of voice, etc. Let us hope th’enthusiasm continues and the work therein flouisheth!