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Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Wild spoof of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic opera is its own whacky, fast-moving and very skilfully-played self. (Review by Caroline Smart

Having appeared in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance a couple of times in my early days in theatre, I was fascinated to see how Greg Homann was going to turn this long-established comic opera featuring a full cast and chorus into a couple of hours performed by five men.!

Pirates of Penzance was first performed in New York in 1879 before opening in London a year later. It went on to be performed for a century by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in Britain and many other opera companies and repertory companies worldwide. That’s one tough act to follow in two hours!

While purists would undoubtedly have a lot to say about it this theatrical irreverence, I don’t believe you need to know anything about the production’s history or its creators to enjoy this complete spoof. Although I think the singing might not perhaps have reached Mr Sullivan’s approval!

However, this production of Pirates is its own whacky, fast-moving and very skilfully-played self. What things must be like backstage with all the terrifyingly quick costumes changes, I daren’t think!

David Dennis astounds with changes of character, clothing and voice and breezes through I am the very Model of a Modern Major-General with aplomb, every consonant and syllable intact.

Michael Richard is hilarious as a maiden or a surly pirate and suitably pompous as a policeman – his A Policeman’s Lot is Not a Happy One was very clever, involving a clothes rack of frames topped with helmets!

Murray Todd was an impressive and swashbuckling Pirate King, Clinton Hawks a delight as Mabel (albeit with his fiery hair and beard) and Keaton Ditchfield a suitably long-suffering Frederick.

In an array of hats – whether pirates or policemen - pianist and MD Rowan Bakker holds all these energies together. He needs a medal! Don’t miss it, if it comes your way. – Caroline Smart