In a Word

n. a great number, a crowd

n. strong feeling against a person

v. to whisper

adj. murmuring, growing noisy

Gladys Cooper’s sister, Cissie, was equally misled by an audience when she went on stage for the first time, after acting as her sister’s dresser for many years. Although she only had a small part, the audience apparently started to hiss almost as soon as she had come on stage. This happened every night and in the end she came into the wings in tears. Gladys Cooper could not understand what was going wrong and she asked the House Manager to see if he could find out what was the matter. So he slipped into the back of the stalls just as her sister was making her entrance and from where he was standing he heard the audience whispering:

‘It’s Cissie Cooper, Gladys Cooper’s sister … It’s Cissie Cooper, Gladys Cooper’s sister …’

— Kenneth Williams, The Complete Acid Drops, 1999