Theatre / Trial By Jury

A comic opera in one act by Gilbert and Sullivan, their second collaboration and oldest to survive intact.note  First produced in 1875, humorously dramatizing an action filed in the Court of Exchequer by Angelina against Edwin.

Remedy: "Substantial damages."

Cause of Action: Breach of Promise of Marriage.

Pleadings: Defendant pleads that he was acting as a "love-sick boy" who left the plaintiff after he grew bored with her. Plaintiff is, by her own admission, "no unhappy maid," but nevertheless charges the defendant with having cruelly deprived her of his love.

Issues: "A nice dilemma we have here." May the defendant propose to marry the plaintiff today and marry his intended young lady tomorrow, or does marrying both count as "Burglaree"?

Finding: The jurymen find they "haven't a scrap of sympathy with the defendant." After further deliberations, jury find that they love the plaintiff fondly. The Judge ultimately can find no time to address all the pleadings.

Holding: Every gentleman of the jury wants to hold the fair plaintiff in his arms. The Judge awards her an embrace of his own.

Tropes appearing in Court:

  • Chewbacca Defense: Naturally enough, since everyone in the courtroom operates on Insane Troll Logic.
  • Courtroom Antics: The whole show.
  • Domestic Abuse: The defendant suggests he would thrash and kick the plaintiff.
  • Gold Digger: The Judge got his big break in practicing law by courting the ugly daughter of a wealthy attorney... who he dumped after getting the judgeship.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "Be firm, be firm, my pecker." His pecker is his nose; he's trying to keep a Stiff Upper Lip, not a stiff...something else.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The Usher urges the jury to put prejudice aside by sympathizing with the "broken-hearted bride" and not paying attention to anything the "ruffianly defendant" might say.
    • The Judge tells the story of how he came to be a Judge, which involved committing breach of promise of marriage, the same crime the defendant is accused of.
  • "I Am" Song: The Judge explains in song how he came to be a Judge.
  • Incessant Chorus: The judge is repeatedly interrupted by the jury and the ladies in the gallery.
  • The Judge: The great Judge happens to be a greedy and power-hungry buffoon, who gleefully admits to committing and getting away with the same tort the defendant is accused of.
  • Kangaroo Court: Played for Laughs, of course.
  • Malaproper: The counsel for the plaintiff submits that "to marry two at once is Burglaree!"
  • Marry Them All: The defendant proposes that it would resolve the dilemma if he would "marry this lady today, and marry the other tomorrow." Unfortunately, this is the crime of "Burglaree."
  • Opening Chorus: "Hark, the Hour of Ten Is Sounding."
  • Pun: "Trial-la-law, trial-la-law, singing so merrily Trial-la-law!"
  • Shout-Out: The defendant and plaintiff are named Edwin and Angelia after a popular romantic poem by Oliver Goldsmith.