The exhibit of old Theatre Royal playbills in Mulligan’s includes one for Peter Pan. The performance comprised most of the cast from the original production in London. While the play received rave reviews in Dublin, one theatre-goer had other things on his mind or rather on his back.
This is a transcript of a letter sent by a Dublin Playgoer who believed a woman had tried to kill him while he was attending a performance of the play.
Was he talking through his hat? Should the play have been renamed Peter Pin? Do we have an absence of man laughter in the face of dubious manslaughter?
Now read on…
(Freeman’s Journal, 5 April, 1907)
Sir–Might I ask the courtesy of your columns as a means of warning the selfish, stupid, or callously indifferent against a most dangerous practice now not uncommon in Dublin theatres.
I attended the Wednesday matinee of the delightful ‘Peter Pan’ at the Theatre Royal, and arrived just after the play had begun when the house was in darkness. Taking my seat in the Parterre, I was almost instantly sensible of a sharp pain at the base of both lungs. I sat straight in my seat for a moment and the pain ceased; leaning back, it occurred again, and was repeated some four times. I endeavoured to stand up, but found my coat was caught and, in an effort to release it, it was torn in two places and my hand slightly lacerated.
I then discovered that a person occupying a seat immediately behind had, as a means of disposing of her hat pins, thrust them through the back of the seat before her- the one which I had booked and that the pins projected on my side three or four inches quite sufficient to enable them to reach the lungs, if not the heart, of the person occupying the seat.
Had I thrown myself back heavily in the seat this would probably have occurred and the stupid offender might probably have had the opportunity of explaining the death to the City Coroner. I do not know if the offender can be traced, and whether the law will give redress, but I intend to try, for it is a public duty to punish a person so blindly indifferent to the safety of others.
I may add that I got the pins withdrawn only on calling the attention of an attendant to the unjustifiable and outrageous conduct of the offender.
When the lights were turned up I saw that several ladies had fastened their hats to the back of the seats in front of them with their hat pins although I am, of course, unable to say whether this was done in a similarly dangerous way.
Men place their hats under the seat, why not women? If they cannot be trusted to take them into a theatre without becoming a common danger, the sooner they are deprived of them at the doors the better
A DUBLIN PLAYGOER