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The Zoo

The Zoo, which has a score by Sullivan and a libretto by Bolton Rowe was first performed on June 5, 1875, a few weeks after Trial By Jury opened.  Like Trial by Jury, The Zoo is a one-act piece without spoken dialogue.

The curtain opens on "Ladies and Gentlemen of the British Public" who are visiting the zoo's Bear Pit and Refreshment Stall.  They notice that a young (and poor) apothecary, Aesculapius Carboy, is trying to hang himself on the veranda of the Refreshment Stall.  Carboy explains that the father of Laetitia Grinder, the woman he loves, has rejected him because he is a mere apothecary.  This is complicated by the fact that he has sent Laetitia a dose of peppermint, and her father a medication not for internal consumption.  Unfortunately, labels got mixed up.

Eliza Smith, who is in charge of the Refreshment Stall, orders Carboy to desist. Thomas Brown, who has been wooing Eliza, suspects that Carboy is a rival, but she reassures him.

When Laetitia arrives in search of Carboy, the two sing a duet of rapturous reunion.  Eliza and Thomas Brown join them in a patter-song about the refreshments Thomas has been consuming from Eliza's stall.  As Thomas collapses from overeating, Carboy, insists that he must not be crowded or moved, whilst the crowd offer a multitude of alternative suggestions. 

Carboy sends Eliza off to get a prescription for him. Then, whilst carrying out a medical examination on Thomas, he discovers the Order of the Garter beneath his coat reveals Thomas as a peer in disguise! Thomas, recovering, admits this and explains that he has come here incognito "in search of virtue" and found it in Eliza.

Laetitia's father, Mr Grinder, now appears, in search of "my wicked daughter" and Carboy. The loving couple and chorus try to appeal to Grinder's sentimentality, but he does not appear to have any feelings.  Carboy again resolves on suicide the fickle chorus provide him with a rope for the deed.  What happens next is a clever twist in the story.  Will Carboy be successful in his suicidal quest?

The Zoo