Black-Eyed Susan, or All in the Downs

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A comedy in three acts by Douglas Jerrold. (Sometimes simply referred to as Black-Eyed Susan.)

The original text

Based on a well known ballad by that name, it has been described as "a nautical melodrama (with all its stock characters) that praises the patriotic British tar (sailor) while critiquing authoritarianism in the British Navy"[1], it was the playwright's Jerrold's first successful play, opening at the Surrey Theatre on 26 January 1829 and setting a new record of over 150 performances. It is a key play in the history of English melodrama, and became a stock play across the Empire, also in South Africa, till well into the 20th century.

Translations and adaptations

An American version, published in 1856 by William V. Spencer, Boston, is apparently an adaptation, as it is called "A nautical and domestic drama, in two acts" (1856), based on the "carefully marked copy" of a performance in the Boston Theatre.

Performance history in South Africa

1829: First performed in Cape Town by H. Booth and local amateurs on 10 November as an afterpiece to Pizarro, or The Death of Rolla (Sheridan), with Booth as "William".


Facsimile of the 1856 Boston version, Internet Archive[2]

F.C.L. Bosman, 1928: pp. 209,

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