Friday, February 25, 2022

The Revenge

Amy B. Huang has an interesting article in the recent issue of Theatre Survey about Edward Young's 1721 play The Revenge.

The play follows Zanga, a Moorish prince who plots revenge against a Spanish general, Don Antonio, who captured him and murdered his father.

Young's play is reminiscent of Othello, only this time the Moor is in the place of Iago, spreading lies to provoke discord. Rather than merely kill Don Antonio, Zanga convinces him that his love Leonora has been unfaithful to him.

Zanga was traditionally played by a white actor, but in the 19th century, the African-American star Ira Aldridge performed the role. Huang includes excerpts from a review of his performance by playwright and critic Douglas Jerrold.

According to Jerrold, Aldridge was "gifted with an intelligence of perception, dignity of action and force of expression that not only do honor to his particular race, but to humanity." Though Jerrold was not a fan of the play, he thought Aldridge "made as much of Zanga as it is possible to do."

Below is a picture of Aldridge in the role. He must have been amazing to see on stage!