‘Does all Melbourne smell like this?’ : The Colonial Metropolis in Marvellous Melbourne

Abstract

A few years after George Augustus Sala had coined the term ‘Marvellous Melbourne’ in 1885, a play with that title was written and performed with great success in Melbourne, the place perceived by many at the time as the premier city of the Australian colonies. Unlike Sala, however, the play uses the term sarcastically to describe the seedier side of Melbourne’s urban life. Ryan’s article examines the play, its reception and its images of Melbourne in the context of contemporary theatrical conventions. She finds that the play, which gave the audience an opportunity to comfortably enjoy images of their familiar local environment, presented Melbourne as a metropolis ‘which could equal the crime, misery, and debauchery, as well as the glamour and sophistication, of other major urban centres around the world’ (90).

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Published 1 May 2003 in Volume 21 No. 1. Subjects: Australian theatre, Cities, Colonial life, Colonial literature & writers, Melodrama, Urban life.

Cite as: Ryan, Delyse. ‘‘Does all Melbourne smell like this?’ : The Colonial Metropolis in Marvellous Melbourne.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 21, no. 1, 2003. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.a4246c57b9.