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to surrender into the hands of youth and inexperience, those parts which time and practice has so well enabled them to perform. Bent on charming to the last, we have seen, with fear and trembling, a very fat old woman of fifty as Juliet, lolling over the frail and creaking balcony, while a short, pursy, and somewhat asthmatic Romeo came waddling to his love, puffing out
" How softly sweet sound lover's tongues by night !"
The truth is, that the personation of old women is a very thankless branch of theatrical business, and the same quantity of ability which, employed in it, meets with comparative neglect, would, in a more enticing line of character, draw down thunders of applause. This may in some degree account for the meagre and scanty mention which is made of Mrs. Wheatley by the press of this city. She is seldom noticed, and when she is, it is generally in one of those unmeaning commendations which are at intervals dealt out to every worthless appendage of a green-room, such as she was quite at home,” or “went through her part with spirit," or any other ready-coined phrase. For our own part, we have the highest opinion of Mrs Wheatley, and think there is little ventured in saying, that she is not only the best actress in her line on this conti
nent, but the best beyond all comparison ; and in all the theatres in which, in various parts, we have occasionally been present, out of London we have never seen her equal. Where is there another Mrs. Malaprop in this country ? Or indeed, in all the range of ridiculous old ladies, who, like her, can give the height of absurdity without the taint of vulgarity? There is all the difference in the world between making such a character as Mrs. Malaprop a coarse, ignorant old woman, and a foolish old lady. And herein lies the excellence of Mrs. Wheatley ; however her “nice derangement of epithets” may betray her ignorance, her appearance and manners show she is not one of the canaille, but familiar at least with the forms and manners of a drawing-room. In the composition of her dress too, from “top to toe” there is not a vulgar curl or color. But it is not in this line alone that Mrs. W. can lay claims to distinction. Her talents are as versatile as they are excellent, and her chambermaids, if not marked by the same evident superiority, have a pertness and spirit about them that are always amusing. There is one character that she plays, (a very disagreeable one) which in her hands is one of the most perfect efforts we have witnessed on the boards of a theatre, viz. Mrs. Subtle in Paul Pry. Every expression of her countenance, and every modulation of her voice, are imbued with the spirit of art and demure hypocrisy.
There is another thing worthy of remark. Mrs. Wheatley, though the representative of age, is herself in the prime of life and full vigor of intellect. This is an advantage as great as it is rare; for the line of character in which she appears, is generally used as a dernier resort by actresses, who are themselves too old to appear in any thing else, and who bring to their task confirmed habits, and jaded and worn out powers of mind and body. According to the common course of nature, it will be long before the public will have to regret this as being the case with Mrs. Wheatley; and even when time shall have laid his unsparing hand upon her, her excellence in the execution of those parts, will have become so much a matter of habit, that only the physical force and energy will be wanting.
The faults of this lady are so few, that it is scarcely worth while pointing them out. The greatest is, that she is not always proof against the applause of the more noisy part of the audience ; so that when she does any thing particularly well, and a clapping of hands ensues, she wishes to do more, and is in the habit of spreading out the folds
of her ample and antique garments, and flouncing about the stage more than is exactly necessary. As long, however, as Mr. Simpson retains the services of Mrs. Wheatley in the Park company, that theatre will be possessed of an attraction which no other establishment can, at present, or is likely to equal. BARRY AND WOODHULL.
THESE two performers are as opposite as the antipodes, and we place them together for the sake of contrast. Their style of acting is as dissimilar as may be. Woodhull is as unbending as ironBarry as yielding as wax. In the expression of passion, Woodhull, like a flint, must be struck sharply before he emits a spark of fire—while Barry, like a rocket, is off in a blaze, at the slightest touch. The one is as hard as granite—the other as flexible as silk ; and if, by any process, the qualities of the two could be compounded together, a fine actor would be the result. In melo-dramas, where murders have to be committed, or any other unlawful transaction carried on, they mostly hunt in couples. Both are generally scoundrels, but scoundrels with a difference. Woodhull is the stanch, obdurate villain-Barry the weak and wavering sinner. The one has no compunctious visitings of nature"