Who was Lizzie Siddal? She was a unique woman with supermodel status who charmed the art world as a muse in 1849 and became an artist herself. She was immortalised through ‘Ophelia’ by John Everett Millais and the words of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
For the past month, at the Arcola Theatre, audiences have been treated to a new play by Jeremy Green. At Cass Art we love a good story of inspiration and persevering with your art, and Lizzie Siddal gets huge thumbs up from us. The story begins in 1849 when Lizzie was employed as a model by Walter Deverell and then introduced to the Pre-Raphaelites; in particular Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who would become her lover and she his muse. Lizzie posed for the classic ‘Ophelia’ by John Everett Millais, even contracting pneumonia after a series of long sessions in a cold bath as his studio. The play then follows her notable success as a female artist, with support from the legendary art patron John Ruskin, and her tragic end.
The incredibly talented cast include Emma West as Lizzie, who also played her in BBC Two’s 2009 drama ‘Desperate Romantics’, Tom Bateman as Dante Gabriel Rossetti with an incredibly moving performance as an artist, her lover and her teacher and West End star Daniel Crossley who plays a superb John Ruskin. The cast is completed by the talented James Northcote, Jayne Wisener and Simon Darwen – with a fast-paced and witty play with the actors alternating several challenging roles.
Lizzie Siddal is a hauntingly beautiful portrayal of artistic skill, inspiration and temperament. It is a must see at Dalston’s Arcola Theatre before it ends this Saturday 21st December. Tickets and more information can be found on the Arcola Theatre website.