Magistrates reading the Riot Act from the stage during the 'Old Prices' Riots of 1809
When the second Theatre Royal, Covent Garden reopened, the management tried to recoup some of the cost of rebuilding by increasing the seat prices. This met with immediate protest from the audiences who rioted at every performance for the weeks after reopening. Management tried various methods to quell the rioters, including sending pugilists into the audience and having magistrates read the Riot Act from the stage. Only a decrease in the ticket prices eventually restored order.
Image © ROH Collections