The Romp

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The Romp is a musical entertainment in two acts by Isaac Bickerstaff(e) (1733-1812?)[1]

The original text

Originally written as a comic opera in three acts called Love in the City by Isaac Bickerstaff(e) (1733-?1812), with music from Charles Dibdin and various continental composers. It had its première at Covent Garden, 21 February, 1767, and was first published in 1767 by W. Griffin.

The opera failed, but, thought this was his only unsuccessful play, later adaptations of it as The Romp (and credited to Bickerstaffe) , became resounding successes internationally. One such was a three act abridgement called The Romp, or A Cure for the Spleen (attributed to Bickerstaffe and Didbin), which was performed in Ireland between 1767 -78, then in London and America.

The most prominent and successful version however was the two act version, was simply entitled The Romp and was credited to Bickerstaffe. It was done as a vehicle for the actress Dorothy Jordan in the role of "Priscilla Tomboy", which did much for her career. The Jordan version was apparently first performed in Ireland and on tour round about 1780, then opened to acclaim at the Theatre Royal Covent Garden March 28 1778.

This latter text was prepared for publication by an unknown editor (sometimes referred to as “– Lloyd”) , and first published in 1786, probably by by W. Lowdnes, who published a new edition in 1789. Though The Romp continued going through many other adaptations afterwards, sometimes called a comic opera, at others “a musical entertainment” and apparently even billed as “an interlude” at times, it is most probably the published "Jordan" version which was used by companies in South Africa.

Performance history in South Africa

1818: Performed on 22 August by Mr Cooke and company, assisted by local Amateurs, in the African Theatre with Douglas (Home).

Translations and adaptations


Facsimile version of the Lowdnes edition of 1789 (Google eBook)[2]

Ronald L. Byrnside 1997. Music in Eighteenth-century Georgia (Google eBook)[3]

Peter A. Tasch 1972. The Dramatic Cobbler: The Life and Works of Isaac Bickerstaff[4]

F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [5]: pp. 154

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