Catching a Mermaid

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Catching a Mermaid is an amphibious piece of extravagance in one act by J. Stirling Coyne (1803-1868)[]

The original text

A parody of the mermaid animal/human exhibits popular in the early 19th century, and written for the Olympic theatre's resident comedian Frederic Robson.

First performed at the Olympic Theatre, London in 1855 and published by Lacy.

Translations and adaptations

In May 1859, when the topic of a sensational hoax called The Talking Fish was very active in England[1], Coyne's original sketch was altered to Talking Fish and played at the Adelphi Theatre, with the theatre's own comic, J.L. Toole.

Performance history in South Africa

1863: Performed in the Garrison Theatre, Cape Town by the 11th Regiment on 22 and 29 January, with Catherine Howard, or The Tomb, the Throne and the Scaffold (Dumas/Suter).


Jill A. Sullivan. 2015. Popular Exhibitions, Science and Showmanship, 1840–1910, Routledge[2]

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p. 255

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