Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The Pirates of Penzance - Richmond Theatre

The Pirates of Penzance
by Gilbert and Sullivan
Director: Peter Mulloy
Reviewer: James Higgins

One of Gilbert and Sullivan's most popular comic operas, The Pirates of Penzance was first performed in London in 1880. This production is by The Carl Rosa Opera Company that was recently reformed (1998) after first being established in 1873 by Carl Rosa, a German musical impresario.

The action takes place in Cornwall during the reign of Queen Victoria and the first act begins with the Pirate King congratulating Frederic, an apprentice pirate, on becoming fully qualified. We learn that Fredric however wishes to leave piracy behind and tells of a mistake my his nursemaid Ruth in landing him the position originally as he wanted to be a pilot and she had misheard.Frederic then discovers the many daughters of Major General Stanley on a deserted beach and becomes instantly enchanted with one of them (Mabel)What follows is the story of how he is torn between the pirates and his love and is a thoroughly enjoyable fun filled feast.

The music was conducted with gusto by Martin Handley and played with great passion.The cast were in absolutely superb voice and time flew as the multiple musical numbers were reeled off with beauty and precision.Steven Page gave a very convincing performance as the dastardly Pirate King. Lincoln Stone (Frederic) and Kathy Batho (Mabel) excelled as the lovers that first met on the beach.

Karen Dunbar, herself famous for her comedy, brought an air of mischief to her role of the Sergeant of Police. She did struggle a little to connect with the audience at times when trying to interact with them possibly as she was unknown to them. (Jo Brand played the role in the West End but had to withdraw at short notice.) Barry Clark as the Major General really stole the show with his fantastic performance of the fabulous tongue twisting and well known Major-General's Song that had the audience enthralled.

Ciaran Bagnall (Designer) created a great backdrop that really complemented the amazing Victorian Costumes on display that really helped to set the scene.The Pirates of Penzance is a marvellous piece of fun and theatrical cheer that has lost none of its magic over a century after it was first performed to packed audiences in London and New York. The perfect antidote to the gloom outside the front door.

Runs until Sat 19th Sept
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