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322Comparative Drama flying dragons, and eight dwarf witches. There is also a marionette that is transformed from a witch into various other forms: When Macbeth decides to seek out the witches for further prophecy, he again sends Fighetto [Cagnoli's comic mask] ahead and he arrives at the entrance to the underworld where the witches have left their cauldron momentarily unattended . Fighetto's terror is overcome by his greed as he is drawn closer by the odor coming from the cauldron, to the amusement of the audience who have seen the loathsome ingredients which the witches were stirring into their brew. Suddenly the trick witch appears. She is the archetypal Loathly Lady of the fairy tale—ancient and toothless—and she pursues Fighetto, proposing marriage and promising him a dozen children. He rudely rejects her and pushes her away, causing her wig to fall off, revealing her bald head. Despite his revulsion , he cannot resist the offer of a meal and takes her arm. First one arm, then the other, disappears, to Fighetto's amazement. He concludes from this that she is, indeed, a witch intent upon trapping him and attempts to strangle her. A series of transformations ensues. First, her head falls off, then she turns into a vase of flowers, then a small devil who changes sizes like Alice in Wonderland until the terrified Fighetto flees. (43-44) After this virtuoso display the tragedy abruptly returns, but not without more madness: at one point the cauldron becomes a winged dragon, while at another the cavern is transformed into a hellish abyss. Despite having such rich resources at her disposal, and her claim that she will look at the productions as documents of popular culture, she offers no commentary, gives no social or cultural background, for example, into the parts of northern and central Italy where Cagnoli and his wife worked. Young's work goes only this far; in letting her catalogue , descriptions and transcriptions speak for themselves, she has left it for others to examine the broader significance of this fascinating subject. DOC ROSSI John Cabot University, Rome Michael R. Booth, John Stokes, and Susan Bassnett. Three Tragic Actresses: Siddons, Rachel, Ristori. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Pp. ? + 200. $49.95. The co-authors of this volume each contribute an essay on one of three actresses named in the title—Sarah Siddons, Rachel Félix, and Adelaide Ristori. All three performers specialized in tragedy, and the brief introductory chapter suggests that the work of each performer redefined for her time the dramatic representation of female characters in tragedy. The introduction argues that these performers gained fame because their representations emphasized the significance of female heroines of tragedy in ways which fascinated their audiences. Although the three long essays employ different critical perspectives, all pay considerable attention to audience response as interpreted from sources such Reviews323 as diaries and letters, reviews, and other press accounts. Detailed bibliographical notes, numerous illustrations, and an index enhance the work's value to scholars. Because Siddons, Rachel, and Ristori were based in different countries at different times, working with different theatrical conventions and repertoire, one effect of the juxtaposition of these essays is to make differences between performers' careers and strategies seem striking. The introduction, however, focuses on the similarities—in particular, on the ways these performers raised the status of the actress oftragedy and women characters in tragedy. In the process each actress "could move beyond the limits of the social worlds she inhabited as a woman; her theatre was therefore a profoundly paradoxical place, a public arena for the display of what was publicly disallowed, where the representation of suffering and desire might be the first signs of resistance" (9). Michael Booth's discussion of Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) demonstrates his encyclopedic knowledge of English theater history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Siddons was a towering figure in British theater, renowned for the gravity, dignity, and heroism, combined with passion, with which she portrayed female characters; her performances were frequently described by her contemporaries as "sublime ." Booth outlines Siddons's life economically and sympathetically. Born into the theatrical Kemble family, as an adult she sometimes acted with her brothers John...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 322-326
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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