The Corsican Trap: it's mechanism and reception

Geraint D'Arcy

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In 1852, Charles Kean commissioned Dion Boucicault to adapt Les Frères Corses for the English stage. Boucicault took the 1850 Parisian version, adapted it into The Corsican Brothers and under the direction of Charles Kean, who also played both leads, the play opened on 24 February at Kean's Princess's Theatre (Era 29 February 1852).The play is a revenge tale about twin brothers who share a psychic link. Split into three acts, the first two acts take place chronologically at the same time and lead to the one brother's death and his ghostly appearance to the other. The third act leads to the surviving brother's revenge. As a melodrama, the time discrepancy in the play is interesting as is the premise of the ghosts and the way the action plays out. The play should have been no better received than its French counterpart, but due to the staging of Kean's production, it was to become immensely popular.One month after opening at the Princess, The Corsican Brothers was running in five other London Houses (Era 21 March 1852), by April it had reached the Adelphi in Edinburgh (Era 4 April 1852) and the next week it opened in the Queen's Royal Theatre in Dublin. In Kean's eight year tenancy at the Princess, it was performed two hundred and thirty six times.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTheatre Notebook
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • theatre history
  • theatre technology
  • 19th century theatre


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