nautical drama



  • A typically British form of melodrama that was introduced inthe 1750s and remained popular for over a century. Its hero was the'Jolly Jack Tar,' a stock figure based largely on the naval characterscreated by the novelist Tobias Smollett (1721 - 71). In 1757 DavidGarrick produced Smollett's successful and much imitated nauticalfarce The Reprisal at Drury Lane. The actor Charles Dibdinthe Elder (see Dibdin family) became particularlypopular in the Jack Tar roles. In the 19th century Douglas Jerrold'sBlack-Ey'd Susan (1829) presented a sentimental picture of therelationship between a sailor and his faithful wife. Nautical drama continuedto attract London audiences into the 1880s, especially at the Surrey Theatre.By this time, however, it had become fair game for parody, the most notableburlesque of the genre being Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore(1878).