The New Boy

Jump to navigation Jump to search

There appear to have been at least three plays by this name over the years (plus various films, novels, etc.), two plays from the mid 1890s, and one short play for schools from the 21st century:

The New Boy: a comic farce by Arthur Law

Arthur Law (1844-1913)[1] was apparently inspired to write the play by F. Anstey’s popular book Vice Versa. The New Boy opened at Terry's Vaudeville Theatre, London, on February 28, 1894, with Weedon Grossmith (1854-1919) in the leading role, and finally closed in April 1895. The first American performance of was in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on September 14, 1894.

The posters for Law's play are speculated to have been the source of the famous Mad Magazine cover image of "Alfred E. Neumann". (See the entry on this in Yesterday's Papers, an inspiring blog by cartoonist, illustrator and storyteller John Adcock at

This seems to the best known and most thoroughly and frequently documented of the two 19th century farces.

The New Boy: a comic drama by R.R.Lumley

There are far fewer references to this play than there are to the work by Law. According to Allardyce Nicoll (1975:p. 464)[2], the play by Ralph R. Lumley (1864–1900) first opened in Margate in the UK on 22 April, 1893 (then known as Under Suspicion), before it premiered as The New Boy on 29 May 1893, also in Margate.

Another reference to Lumley's play occurs on the website on the Lakewood Theater in Maine, USA[3], which lists a 1910 production of a play called The New Boy by Ralph R. Lumley - but gives no further detail.

The only South African source on what appears to be Lumley's play seems to be a discussion by F.C.L. Bosman (1980, p. 403, citing D.C. Boonzaier), who ascribes the play performed in South Africa by the Ernest Searelle Comedy Company to "R.R. Lumley". Given the fact that Bosman and/or Boonzaier almost certainly have the name of the company wrong (it is probably the Luscombe Searelle Comedy Company), it is quite possible of course that this could also have been Law's text, rather than the one by Lumley.

The New Boy: a short play by Andrew Beattie

This is a short play of 20 minutes duration with an all-male cast; it’s a ghost story set in an English boys’ boarding school.

See Andrew Beattie's website at

Recorded South African performances of plays called The New Boy

1895: A play called The New Boy (ascribed to R.R. Lumley) was performed in Cape Town by the Ernest Searelle Comedy Company [sic] as part of their repertoire, with a cast that consisted of Hope Dudley, Herbert Flemming (as "Dr Candy"), Leslie Kenyon (as "Felix Roach") and William Devereux.


Allardyce Nicoll. 1975. A History of English Drama 1660-1900 (Volume 5, Late Nineteenth Century Drama 1850-1900). Cambridge University Press: p.464[4]

D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p. 403

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays

Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Return to PLAYS III: Collections

Return to PLAYS IV: Pageants and public performances

Return to South African Festivals and Competitions

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page