Portrait of Colley Cibber

Portrait of Colley Cibber

Cibber was a man of many parts: actor, theatre manager, playwright and, from 1730, poet laureate. He began his acting career in 1690 with Thomas Betterton's company at Drury Lane. His strength as an actor, as it was with his writing, was in comedy. He particularly excelled in the role of the fashionable coxcomb. His performances as Sir Novelty Fashion in his own play Love's Last Shift and as Lord Foppington, the same character renamed, in Vanbrugh's sequel The Relapse, established his reputation as a comic fop. The wig he wore as Lord Foppington became the talk of the town.

Cibber was a small man and the wig was colossal. It was brought on to the stage in a sedan chair and the actor donned it publicly to the admiration of all beholders. Cibber was a real man of the theatre and his gift as a writer, apart from his instinctive understanding of what the audiences wanted, was to fit himself and his colleagues with parts nicely suited to the talent of each.