Black-Ey'd Susan


Writers: Douglas Jerrold


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Period, Simple/No Set
Time & Place
England, nineteenth-century
Cast Size
Ideal for
Community Theatre, Mostly Male Cast, Regional Theatre
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes young adult, adult, mature adult characters


Black-Eyed Susan; or, All in the Downs is a comic play in three acts by the father of nautical melodrama, Douglas Jerrold. The drama revolves around William, a sailor who returns to England after fighting in the Napoleonic Wars for three years. He finds that his wife, Susan, has fallen on hard times and is being harassed by her cruel landlord and uncle, Doggrass. She is also being pursued by the smuggler Hatchett, who devises a plan to falsely inform Susan that William is dead so that he can make advances upon her himself. Hatchett’s efforts are scuppered by William’s return and the smuggler is arrested by the local marines. However, William’s reconciliation with his loving wife is further tested when his own drunken, immoral captain, Crosstree, tries to seduce Susan. William attacks this interloper from behind with a cutlass, not realizing that it is his captain. He is court-martialed for attacking a senior officer and, despite his honest, moral character, he is sentenced to be hanged. However, in a last minute twist of good fortune, it is revealed that William was discharged from the navy just moment before he attacked his captain and so is a free man.

Lead Characters

Black-Ey'd Susan guide sections