LETTER: Mind-boggling 1907 activities

The letter [Herald May 5] regretting the small audience at the Devonshire Park Theatre recently is a reminder that ever since its opening in 1884, similar concerns have been filed.

My particular favourite is the censorious report from an Eastbourne Gazette reviewer of October 1907, the same year that Eastbourne Operatic and Dramatic Society started appearing there.

It read, “According to the special census taken last week, the population of Eastbourne is 50,692 persons. On Monday night about 92 of these went to the Devonshire Park Theatre to see the fairest performance of Macbeth that has been given there. The remaining 50,600 probably spent the evening indulging in such weaknesses as big dinners, bridge, the Daily Mail, limericks, love-making and diabolo.”

The term ‘love-making’ of course conjures different connotations today compared with those of 1907. Nonetheless, it is intriguing to consider that the process, whatever form it took, occurred between limericks and diabolo. And what would be among a list of equivalent pastimes today? EastEnders? Glue-sniffing?

EDWARD THOMAS

Author, The Playhouse

on the Park,

Collington Close