Friday, 29 May 2015

The Residents in 'A Trip to Moscow'

Archives Assistant Stephen has uncovered some rum goings-on in the LHSA pamphlet collection:
This week, we present a musical play written by and starring the Residents of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and originally performed on 17th December 1897, the script of which comes from LHSA’s pamphlet collection. The junior doctors of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in their first year of appointment at the hospital, known as the Residents, had a reputation for mischievous anti-authoritarian behaviour in their free time. Perhaps in the face of the suffering and death they encountered on a day-to-day basis, they instinctively responded with an irreverent sense of humour. The images show the Residents' class of winter 1897-1898 posing for their official photograph and the cover and an extract of the play they performed. The cover has the sub-heading ‘K.C. ‘97’ which presumably stands for ‘Kitchen Concert’ as this is mentioned in other documents in the archive relating to the Residents.
Cover of 'A Trip to Moscow', LHSA pamphlet collection
The script for the play contains a mixture of slender political comment on Russia, which was then under the rule of Tsar Nicholas II (or ‘Czar’ in the play), medical veering towards toilet humour and impersonations of their teaching doctors. A regular threat which runs through it is for characters to be sent to Siberia, the common destination for dissidents of the Russian regime. Out of the play’s performers, Edwin Matthews and J.W. Struthers went on to become respected surgeons in Edinburgh, who taught their own cliniques for medical students.


Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Residents, Winter 1897 - 98

Songs in ‘A Trip to Moscow’ were written to popular tunes of the day including those from operas by Gilbert and Sullivan, which has another connection to the Residents - as will be revealed in a future blog.
Pages from 'A Trip to Moscow'

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