David Garrick was an 18th century actor whose name is still synonymous with the Shakespearean roles he performed. Raised in Lichfield, he had intended to be a lawyer but was instead drawn into the theatre
AT THE age of 24, David Garrick made his stage debut in Ipswich and only a few months later took the title role in Richard III at a small theatre in the unfashionable East End of London. His performance was so electrifying that crowds flocked to see him and his success was assured. Within a few years he had moved to the Drury Lane theatre in central London where he became actor-manager until his retirement in 1776.
Garrick’s style of acting did not rely on simply declaiming the lines so they could be clearly heard at the back of the theatre, but in a much more naturalistic style using variations in tone of voice, expression and gesture.
His performance as Richard III was preserved in the painting by William Hogarth. The original is now at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, but it was widely reproduced as an engraving. This Victorian figure, pictured, is copied from the painting, and was made by an unknown Staffordshire factory. It shows Richard III, the night before the Battle of Bosworth, having woken from a nightmare in which he was haunted by the ghosts of those he had “murdered”.
From The Sentinel, 5th February 2016