The Lion That Didn’t Roar! September 29, 2013Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback
Chris from Haunted Ohio Books sent the following late nineteenth-century theatre story in. It would be difficult to beat this. Never, but never work with children and animals.
Someone connected with ‘The Soudan’, the English romantic drama which has already surpassed every theatrical record in Boston, thought that a live lion led on the stage among three other beasts of prey which are rolled on in cages in the wake of the British regiments, representing the return from the Soudan engagements, would be a strikingly effective addition to the play’s realistic features. It was soon discovered, however, that no lion could be found humble enough to submit to such an indignity. A way out of the dilemma quickly suggested itself and was quickly adopted. A big St. Bernard dog attached to the theater was pressed into service and a commission given to a celebrated taxidermist of the Hub to costume the dog in all the ferocity of a huge jawed lion .The taxidermist’s work was a masterpiece. When the St. Bernard issued from his dressing room preparatory to making his entrance on the stage he resembled a perfect specimen of the dread beast of the jungle. Nature was perfectly counterfeited. Everyone interested in the work fairly reveled in satisfaction at the great result. The play progressed and the time for the triumphal procession arrived. The procession started. The time came for the entrance of the unfettered lion. Success was sure. The lion started. Two steps more and he would be in full view of the audience—when lo, the bottom dropped completely out of the chimera. The fierce, fiery jawed king of the desert suddenly and altogether unexpectedly revealed a cruel flaw in his armor—he barked. Plain Dealer [Cleveland, OH] 28 December 1890: p. 10
In our rather patronising attitude to our nineteenth-century ancestors we forget how well they could write and their exquisite if gentle sense of humour. Can anyone beat this with another Victorian theatre anecdote? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com The closest Beach can come is a story about Hamlet’s ghost beating up some rowdies in the gods in a tour of industrial Lancashire… God they had it coming. Beach should also flag up previous lion stories in this place: he is particularly pleased with his series of escaping lions and the last European lion. There should soon be a post on those that were eaten by lions. But that might be the new year.
1 Oct 2013: The Count writes in with this great dog-lion story from China. *** Nene meanwhile gets all Edwardian on us and sends in the following story. God…: After last night’s performance at the Theatre Mooney, of which a display of lion tamers formed a part, a young woman, who was on friendly terms with the lion tamer, quarreled with him and committed suicide. To carry out her purpose she excited the lions and stretching her arms through the bars of the cage was devoured by them. The animals seized the woman’s arms, mauled her on the face and breast and tore her shoulders away…’ If you’ve got the stomach it continues. Thanks Count and Nene!