Recently I wrote a post about kick-arse Victorian heroines in melodramatic productions on London’s East End. I’ve also written about the vogue for Circassian ladies in freak-shows in the late nineteenth century. Now I’ve stumbled across an undated playbill in the V&A Theatre Museum’s Enthoven Collection which neatly merges the two phenomena.
The playbill is for an East London melodrama featuring the derring-do of a Circassian heroine. Roll up, the poster declares, for an evening of Grand Equestiran and Dramatic Military Romantic Spectacle:
“The Conquest of Tartary; or the Eagle Rider of Circassia and Her Monarch Steed of the Desert, has surpassed the most sanguine expectations of the Management,… the general Acting, with the powerful Equestrian tablueax, Effects, Battles, Processions, and Gorgeous Scenery, with the strong interest created by the perilous adventures and feaful Escapes of the Circassian Prophetess, supported by Mrs R Buxton Taylor (the celebrated Female Equestrian), totally defies competition”.
This Eagle Rider of Circassia sounds even more like an exotic Lara Croft than the characters played by Amy Stirling at the Standard Theatre discussed in that recent post of mine. Picture her with bust rearing beneath beaded dress, diaphanous harem pants beneath, silver sword in hand, with her beer-frazzled hair abundant beneath a fetching helmet… All she needs is a Within Temptation goth-rock-style backing, and the Victorian heroine-does-World of Warcraft image is complete.
(NB above Circassian-beauty image from http://www.missioncreep.com/mundie/gallery/gallery5.htm)