The Restoration and Estcourt the Mimic

  • 16 Jan 2012
  • Theatre
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For the twelve years of the Commonwealth lay acting was prohibited, but it revived rapidly with the Restoration, and in 1682 there was a 'Pageant House' in the Cornmarket, but whether this was used as a theatre, or a store for the equipment used in this was used as a theatre, or a store for the equipment used in the annual guild pageants is not known.

Little is known of the drama at Worcester at this period, except an anecdote of a player named Estcourt, who, towards the end of the 17th century, became celebrated; and it is said, to have taken to the stage in this neighbourhood. No women ever appeared on the stage before the Restoration, and all female parts were taken by youths whose smooth pink faces were supposed to suggest female loveliness.

Estcourt at the age of 15 had a peculiar girlish look, and he ran away from home to join a band of strollers. At Worcester he played the part of Roxana in the tragedy Alexander the Great. His enraged father traced him here and  was determined to show parental control.In great distress, the boy sought the help of the wife of the manager of the troupe, and she fitted him out in some of her garments. His girlish looks favoured him, and he escaped to Chipping Norton, though not without adventures. He became a great comedian; so great that Colley Cibber wrote of him: 'This man was so amazing and extraordinary a mimic that no man or woman from the coquette to the Privy Councillor ever moved or spoke before him but he could carry their voice, look, mien, and motion instantly into another company'.