Utopia, Limited

Act I

Tarara – The Public Exploder’s name is a reference to the recent music-hall hit song imported from America:  “Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay!”

Girton – a women’s college at Cambridge University, founded in 1869

Lalabalele talala! etc. – In the original script: Gilbert used some actual Polynesian for Tarara’s raging:  “Idiot, I run around screaming but can’t make much more noise, since I am hoarse. Crossly I drag myself into the open and go spinning around sweating.” Revised in the 2024 GSVLOC revision to, “Damme, damme, damme!”

Double-first in the world’s university – in British higher education, top honors in two final examinations

dynamite explodes in his auriculars – ears

Quaff the nectar, cull the roses – the joys of Utopian life: to drink a scrumptious beverage and pick flowers

song of far niente – idleness (in Italian)

To which some add (but others do not) Ireland – In the original script: A reference to the long-raging debate over Irish independence. Revised in the 2024 GSVLOC revision to, “In every aspect except the food.”

The Kodaks do their best – Kodak cameras (which came out in 1888) were advertised with the slogan “You press the button, we do the rest.”

Knightsbridge nursemaids, serving fairies, Stars of proud Belgravian airies – servant girls the Guardsmen presumably have left behind in London

ye South Pacific Island viviparians – In the original script, cut in GSVLOC revision: those whose young are born live (not hatched)

Ulahlica! – In the original script, cut in GSVLOC revisions: The Utopian equivalent for “Hear, Hear, Hear!” Revised in the 2024 GSVLOC revision to, “Hip, hip, hooray!”

marvelous philologist – one who studies words

swell the county rate – increase the local taxes

what contango means and also backwardation – fees paid to postpone settlement of a stock purchase or sale, respectively

K.C.B. – Knight Commander of the (Order of the) Bath (high honor)

Q.C. – Queen’s Counsel, a high-ranking lawyer

M.P. – Member of Parliament (elected Politician)

terrify the simple Gaul – the French

Maxim gun and Nordenfelt – kinds of machine gun

Unbend your sails and lower your yards, unstep your masts – Captain Corcoran’s terms for undoing the rigging of sails on a ship (to use coal power instead)

thanks to coke – a fuel made from coal

Company Limited – an incorporated company (“Inc.” or “Ltd.)

of sovereigns all the pink – the best

Joint Stock Companies Act of Parliament ’62 – This act made it easier for small investors to pool their resources and incorporate with reduced personal risk (limited liability). Note: Seven was the required number of founders to establish a company, and the word “limited” (Ltd.) had to be added to the company’s name.

If you’ve the mad temerity our wishes thus to blink – If you are crazily bold enough to disregard our wishes

Act II

the notes of lover’s lay – a poem to be sung

whispered virelay – ancient French verse form

Court of St. James’s vs. Court of St. James’s Hall – In the original script, cut in GSVLOC revisions: confusing the royal palace with the music hall which featured the original “Christy Minstrels” (Royal audience members were not amused)

all that isn’t Belgrave Square is Strand and Piccadilly – fashionable areas of London

Don’t be unhappy, it’s still on the tapis – under consideration

an English girl of eleven stone two – A stone equals 14 pounds, so Goldbury’s ideal girl weighs 156 lbs.—of course, she’s 5 foot 10

Eleven maids out, eleven maids in, And perhaps an occasional “maiden over!” – Cricket playing references (a “maiden over” is analogous to a scoreless inning in baseball)

She’ll waltz away like a teetotum – a kind of top

If my speech is unduly refractory – disobedient

short-petticoated – an indication of being a young girl (before wearing long skirts)

that asinorum pons I have crossed – actually, “pons asinorum,” or Bridge of Asses; schoolboy slang for one of Euclid’s propositions, due to the difficulty of “getting over” it 

Government by party – The United States and the United Kingdom use opposite color distinctions to define their parties. In the United Kingdom, it is the conservative Tories that are blue, while in the United States it’s the more liberal Democrats. What might it mean in Utopia?

Limited monarchy – Where the powers of the monarch are limited by law, as in the United Kingdom, versus an absolute monarchy