E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
We will John Audley it, i.e. abridge it. A thèatrical phrase. In the eighteenth century one Shuter had a travelling company which visited different fairs. It was his custom to lengthen out his performance till a goodly number of newcomers had collected on the open stage of his theatre, when a boy called out John Audley, and the play which was going on inside was brought to an end as soon as possible, (1759.)