Tuesday 9 November 2010

The Polygraphic Hall

Just when I thought I knew most of the entertainment venues in Victorian London, I find another one ... the 'Polygraphic Hall', created for the especial use of W.S.Woodin in 1855. It was located in King William Street, near Charing Cross. It housed Woodin's quick-change impressionist act ('illustrated by a moving panorama of the lake scenery in the north of England') but I also find a range of magicians and variety acts. It became the Charing Cross Theatre, in 1869.

MR. WOODIN. - This popular "entertainer" has thoroughly renovated his elegant "Polygraphic Hall" for the Christmas holidays, which are to him the signal for recommencing his London labours. The entertainment entitled the 'Olio of Oddities' is still essentially the same as wehn it first succeeded the apparently inexhaustible 'Carpet Bag'; but it has received several modifications in the course of its progress, and during the season it is usually Mr. Woodin's practice to watch the conspicuous personages of the day, and by imitating their peculiarities to increase his series of portraits. One of the most recent additions is a speaking-song, called the "Railway Train," in which the rapid succession of characters is perfectly marvellous. Passengers of both sexes and every shade of temper, peremptory officials, boys for luggage, "touters" in the service of hotels, are all hurried in, discussing or squabbling with each other, and every individual has his appropriate head-dress, the lower man being concealed by the table. As a mere exhibition of physical dexterity the rapid exchange of hats for caps, and caps for hats, might fairly excite admiring wonder; but still more singular are the variations of Mr. Woodin's countenance, which is twisted into as many forms of expression as would illustrate a respectable edition of Lavater. The purpose answered by Galignani;s Messenger in Mr. Albert Smith's undying entertainment is carried out in Mr. Woodin's 'Olio' by the song of Miss Chattaway, the young lady whose white ball dress and whose amiable simper are so exceedingly real that it is almost impossible to identify her with the bluff specimens of humanity by which she is preceded. Her lay, warbled forth at the piano, now treats of tickets of leave and garotting, with other matters of actual interest, that the aspect of the time may be to some extent reflected in Polygraphic Hall.

Times, Dec 31, 1856

No comments:

Post a Comment