From the author of What’s the Play and Where’s the Stage comes this new book examining the link between actors and monkeys…
Alan Stockwell’s latest book goes through the history of the man-monkey phenomenon and its major stars.
By taking readers through from the first stage play to feature a chimpanzee as a character back in 1801 to the present-day popular film franchises of ‘King Kong’ and ‘The Planet of the Apes’, many actors have played apes – some successfully, others with tragic consequences.
The book is formed of stories such as that of the ill-fated Parsloe who fell from fame in London to suffer an early and lonely death in America, the irascible almost legless trouble-maker Hervio Nano, Teasdale who found God in prison after stabbing his wife, and the simpleton East End potboy who was transformed into Monsieur Gouffe attracting the bon ton of London and making a fortune.
With the first play to feature an ape as a character was La Perouse, a work that became standard in the repertoire of the theatres of the day as well as in 1825, the French dancer Mazurier became the sensation of Paris and London playing the lead in the ballet Jocko ou le Singe du Brésil – both productions led to a whole new sub-genre of drama arose and held sway for 100 years and led to the likes of King Kong and Planet of the Apes on screen.
Alan Stockwell’s book highlights some of the the oddest, most unfortunate and doomed performers who ever chose to tread the boards – the artistes known as ‘man-monkeys’ and their stories at the heart of theatre history.
Man-Monkeys: From Regency Pantomime to King Kong by Alan Stockwell is available to buy through Amazon now.