Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hissing Queen Victoria 1888

When 19th century writers referred to transpontine theatre houses, on the wrong side of the river from high culture and power, they seem to have particularly had in mind the Royal Surrey on Blackfriars Road.

I recently came across this review of a night there in 1888 - a reminder that in some parts of London, Queen Victoria was very unpopular at this time:

'I went on Saturday to the Surrey Theatre see In the Ranks and... to study the audience. The play was badly acted, but the scenery was rather good. One incident I may mention. A mother goes down to some barracks to see her son, a private soldier, and proposes to kiss him. The son objects to being kissed, saying that he is "serving the Queen.” The mother replies, "She wouldn't mind a mother kissing her own son, for she's got a mother’s heart herself.” Now the author obviously intended that that sentiment should be cheered, and so it would have been at any West-end or provincial theatre. But at the Surrey it was hissed. I am afraid the Socialists, Anarchists. Atheists, and Republicans are getting too much influence in that part of London' (Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter - Saturday 24 March 1888).

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