Box and Cox

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Box and Cox is a one act farce by J.M. (John Maddison) Morton (1811-1891)[1].

The original text

The author of the Wikipedia entry on Morton notes that Box and Cox "was in the tradition of E. F. Prieur and A. Letorzec's Une Chambre pour Deux (1839), which had been the source for Morton's 1843 piece The Double-Bedded Room. However, he then goes on to note that an eminent authority such as the playwright F.C. Burnand (who would later adapt the play as an opera) discounted the importance of La Chambre à Deux Lits in this case , saying that Morton's play was clearly based on the French one-act vaudeville, Frisette by Eugène Labiche and Auguste Lefranc, which had been produced in Paris in the Théâtre du Palais-Royal on 28 April 1846 and published by Editions Michel Lévy frères in the same year.

(For more on the French original, see

Box and Cox was first produced in English at the Lyceum Theatre, London, on 1 November 1847, billed as a "romance of real life", it became a popular nineteenth century play, billed by The New York Times of 1891 as "the best farce of the nineteenth century". The oldest extant published appears to be the one in The Minor Drama XXII by Douglas at No 11 Spruce Street, New York.

Translations and adaptations

Cox and Box, or The Long-Lost Brothers, a one-act comic opera based on Morton's play, was written by F.C. Burnand (1836-1917)[2], to music by Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900)[3], and first performed in 1866.

(For more on the operetta see:

Performance history in South Africa

1850: Performed on 17 September by "Captain Hall's Company" (popular name at the time for the Garrison Players) in the Garrison Theatre, Cape Town , as an afterpiece to A New Way to Pay Old Debts (Massinger).

1850: Performed again on 26 September by "Captain Hall's Company" (popular name at the time for the Garrison Players) in the Garrison Theatre, Cape Town , with Delicate Ground! (Planché), A Lover by Proxy (Boucicault) and The Sentinel (Morton).

1853: Performed on Monday 31 October by the Amateur Company in the Garrison Theatre, alongside Power and Principle (Barnett) and Circumstantial Evidence (Carew). The presentation was apparently repeated Monday 7 November.

1854: Performed on 29 March in King William's Town (Eastern Cape) by the soldiers of the garrison, possibly with The Irishman in London (Macready), in the presence of the Governor General.

1855: Part of the repertoire and thus possibly performed by the G.V. Brooke company in the Garrison Theatre, Cape Town, during the revictualling of their vessel en route to the Australian goldfields in 1854-55.

1857: Performed by the Boscawen Amateurs (officers of H.M.S. Boscawen) in "a suitable place" in Simonstown on 29 June, with Don Caesar de Bazan (). The performances were in aid of the Free Schools.

1858: Performed as Box and Cox, or Lodgings for Two by Sefton Parry and Company in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 25 July.

1861: Performed by J.E.H. English and Company in the New Music Hall in Buitekant Street, Cape Town, on 16 July, with A Bachelor of Arts (Hardwick).

1861: Produced by Officers of the Regiment (North Lincolnshire Regiment of Foot) in the Garrison Theatre, Grahamstown on 9 and 12 September, with Crinoline (Brough) and Only a Halfpenny (Oxenford). The cast consisted of R. Annesley Esq. (Box), Sergeant J. Lydon (Cox), Corporal J. Davies (Mrs Bouncer). (For more on contemporary responses to the performances, see the entry on the North Lincolnshire Regiment of Foot)

1866: Performed in the Garrison Theatre by the dramatic company of the 9th Regiment, on 23 October with the burlesque Romeo and Juliet Travestie, or The Cup of Cold Poison (Halliday) (the latter strangely titled Romeo and Juliet, or The Cup of Cold Pison in Bosman, 1980). The plays were repeated on 30 October.

1867: Performed in the Theatre Royal by Madame Duret and the Le Roy-Duret Company on 17 September with The Isle of St. Tropez (Williams and Burnand) and The Area Belle (Brough and Halliday). This performance was part of a special event put on in recognition of the Duke of Edinburgh's second visit to the Cape Colony. This occasion is marked by the guest appearances by three members of the Duke's entourage, namely the Hon E.C. Yorke, Lord Newry and Mr FitzGeorge.

1878: Cox and Box, or The Long-Lost Brothers, the Burnand and Sullivan one-act musical version, presented on 22 June in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, by the Disney Roebuck company. Billed as a "musical Triumviretta in one act by Arthur Sullivan", it was conducted by Signor Maggi. Also performed the evening were The Serious Family (Barnett) and a poem - "The Wreck of the Eurydice" - by Sutton Vane, written expressly for the occasion.


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [4]: pp. 399, 404-412, 509,

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.

North Lincoln Sphinx Vol 1, No 8. September 30, 1861.

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