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Terry’s star power transcended the boundaries of the stage. Olivia, the fallen woman, was not only popular, but her fashion was copied. Unlike Terry, who was a child actor from acting parents, Irving’s transition into acting was not straightforward. 12 ‘Ever alert to the scent of latent genius’ (Walsh, 1915: 113), Stoker, Melodrama and the Gothic 29 Boucicault insisted with Herbert that Irving play the part. Irving came of age as an actor in the age of sensation and he was, Frank Rahill argues, the defining illuminator of melodrama in that he was able to take on weak melodramas and ‘spiritualize’ them (1967: 210).

In a review of Boucicault’s The Streets of London in which the spectacular effect is achieved with the staging of a burning house, he records: ‘The feelings of the audience are worked up to the highest pitch, and then some commonplace remark or expressive action turns the pent up feeling into quite a different channel. This is the true secret of melodrama’ (Stoker, 1872: 4). Boucicault exploited his sensation scene by adapting the plot, title and location from New York – where the play, with its spectacular burning building, was first performed with the title The Poor of New York in 1857 – to London as The Streets of London (the version Stoker reviewed), Liverpool (The Poor of Liverpool) and Dublin (The Streets of Dublin).

1945: 143) Terry’s association with mystical or non-human figures is, as discussed in Chapter 2, simultaneously liberating and constricting. For Robertson, Terry is fairy-like. Indeed, she recalls in The Story of My Life that she played the fairy queen Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Theatre Royal Bath in 1863, in a dress designed for her by Edward Godwin (1908: 102), the father of her two children. Robertson presents Irving as also 34 Bram Stoker, Dracula and the Victorian Gothic Stage a Gothic creation whose ‘art was his life – his soul.

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