Ned Kynaston



  • (Edward Kynaston; 1640 - 1706) The most celebrated femaleimpersonator of the Restoration theater. Although women werepermitted to act on the British stage after 1660 there was a shortageof willing performers. Samuel Pepys said that Kynaston made "theloveliest lady that ever I saw in my life" and added, afterseeing him in Ben Jonson's Epicoene, that he was "clearlythe prettiest woman in the whole house". Kynaston's most famousrole was as Evadne in The Maid's Tragedy; he also played Julietto Thomas Betterton's Romeo on several occasions.

    The youthful beauty of Kynaston also attracted London's fashionableladies, who would often call after a matinée to take him, stillin costume, on carriage rides through Hyde Park.

    On one occasion King Charles II was impatiently waiting fora tragedy starring Kynaston to begin; when the curtain failed to riseat the appointed time he sent word backstage asking for an explanation.The master of the company hurried to the royal box and informed HisMajesty that "the Queen was not shaved yet".

    As he approached middle age Kynaston began to play heroicmale parts, such as Shakespeare's Henry V. In his later years, oneyoung apprentice, Colley Cibber, found that:

    his handsomeness was very little abated; even at past 60his teeth were sound, white, and even as one could wish to see ina reigning toast of 20.

    Kynaston's story provides the basis for Richard Eyre's lushperiod drama Stage Beauty (2004).