Aquatic Drama

Nautical and underwater spectacles depicting great naval battles became very popular during the eighteenth century and the regular stage was replaced in theatres with a huge water tank. The Sadler's Wells was the most notable of these theatres and temporarily changed its name to the Aquatic Theatre. Such dramas were staged even toward the end of the nineteenth century; Gordon Craig recalls acting his first Hamlet (in a touring company that played Shakespeare back-to-back with Boucicault) on an extremely cramped acting space, since the whole upstage area was filled with a tank of water for the climax of the alternate night's melodrama, where the virginal heroine leapt off a cliff to save herself from the villain, who then dives into the sea after her, followed by the young hero, arriving in the nick of time. (See also Melodrama)

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