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General Comments


I have great affection for this little operetta, because Morton and Sullivan create such an atmosphere of good humour, and communicate the sheer romance of living in rented accommodation. (Or does that sound an incredibly stupid thing to say?) In songs like the Bacon Lullaby and the Fiddle-diddle-dum Duet we are persuaded that this cheap, bohemian life is an absolutely wonderful and romantic thing.

I hope I don't do Burnand an injustice in leaving him out of the equation, but I think his lyrics, though workmanlike and having a genuine humour of their own, aren't as important to the operetta as Morton's dialogue or Sullivan's music.

Box and Cox still have the honour of an entry in most English dictionaries, e.g. my Chambers Dictionary: "two people who never meet, or who alternate in a place, job, etc.

By the way, on the subject of Cox and Box, there is a little book which deserves a mention. It is called Additional Adventures of Messrs. Box and Cox (Bridgewater, Virginia: Parenthesis Press, 1974), consists of sequels to the Morton farce written by Gilbert and Burnand, and is introduced by a gentleman named Ralph MacPhail, Jr. I'm sure I've heard of him before somewhere....

(Gilbert's contribution is quite brief - a prose continuation over two pages which first appeared in Fun in 1866.)


On a number of occasions I tried to get one AOS or another to put on Cox and Box. Once or twice it was done 'internally' at a society get-together or annual meeting, but never received a full performance.

The objections put against Cox and Box in committee were always:

  • It requires a full interior set with working doors and window, not to mention a fire/stove, not one item or part of which is of any possible use for any of the other operas.
  • Only three characters are involved, making the cost of hiring rehearsal space expensive.
  • On show nights a full cast and chorus sit kicking their heels for three-quarters of an hour.
  • If it is put on with Pinafore, then Trial has to go with Pirates or Sorcerer, making a three-set evening with considerable logistic difficulties.

It was invariably voted down.

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