Alfred Cooke (Alfred Cooke)

Alfred Cooke

Theatrical Actor. He was the “eminent equestrian.” ¬†When, in the summer of 1843, William Cooke advertised his “Royal Circus” to the people of Greenock, Scotland, one of the featured performers was his son Alfred. Standing on a horse’s back and circling the ring at a slow canter, Alfred entered costumed as Shakespeare’s Falstaff leading his ragged recruits to slaughter at the Battle of Shrewsbury. From this position Alfred recited Falstaff’s soliloquy about the follies and limitations of honour and then, still standing on his horse’s back, shed the Falstaff costume to reveal a second dress, that of Shakespeare’s Shylock, complete with prop knife and scales with which to extract his pound of flesh from Antonio’s bosom. In the character of Shylock and declaiming a mixture of lines from several scenes of The Merchant of Venice, Cooke continued his circling canter. For a second time he shed his costume, revealing beneath the Shylock robe the battle attire of Richard III, and in his final equestrian circles of the ring Alfred Cooke shouted out his desire to exchange his kingdom for a horse. As the Royal Circus playbill promised, “So far as can be portrayed on Horseback, Mr. Alfred Cooke will delineate the varied and conflicting feelings which moved the breasts of Jocund Falstaff, the Usurious and Relentless Jew, and the Ambitious and Cruel Richard.”‘


  • January, 01, 1970


  • January, 01, 1970


  • Kensal Green Cemetery
  • England

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