Abe Lincoln Makes An Eerie Return to Ford's Theater
updated 02/18/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 02/18/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST
A former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, BBC actor (Charles Dickens) and a British citizen, Dotrice, 54, admits his knowledge of Lincoln when the project began was "minuscule—I knew he abolished slavery and was assassinated, and that's about all." Yet what he accomplishes in Mister Lincoln is a verisimilitude that borders on resurrection, eerily capturing his subject's humor, compassion and notorious melancholia. For six months Dotrice immersed himself in Lincoln's writings, in period photographs and in recordings of Illinois and Kentucky accents ("the most difficult part," he admits).
The effort has proved worthwhile. This week's birthday performance will be taped for a TV special (for Time-Life Television), the play moves to Broadway the end of this month and Dotrice is almost patriotically committed to seeing that it goes on from there. "I think Americans at this time need to be reminded that they are a great nation that has produced great leaders," he says. "I could happily spend the next five years propagating the virtues of Abe Lincoln."