17 Apr

By Gilbert and Sullivan
at the Kings Head Theatre
HMS Pinafore as seen by John Savournin is just wonderful, funny, clever and of course as it is Charles Court Opera – has exceptionally good singing. It is surely Gilbert and Sullivan for the twenty first century and it works like a charm. Savournin’s wit is a great match for Gilbert’s satirical comedy and his Danish choreographer Damian Czernecki adds stylish and seriously daft movements to the mixture. Great music and quirky comedy is an unbeatable combination.
The director is adept at transforming an opera requiring a huge chorus into just nine principal characters. Some doubling, most especially the wonderful Jennie Jacobs who does a neat double as Little Buttercup and a Sister of the Rt Hon Sir Joseph Porter KCB – first Lord of the Admiralty and Ruler of he Queens Navee.
Joseph Shovelton plays him and sings probably the most famous comic song of the G and S and I have never seen it done funnier, showing the man’s utter delight in his situation and the rise to his exalted position.
Gilbert’s satirical comedy about class is easy to laugh at these days, but at the time it might have been a little uncomfortable. The aforementioned lord is wanting to marry a ‘lesser person’ – the Captains pretty daughter Josephine (lovely soprano Alys Roberts – a small girl in a pink mini skirt and knee socks whose voice could shatter glass at twenty paces ) but she is secretly and ashamedly in love with one of the three Able Seamen, Ralph Rackstraw played by the equally mellifluous Philip Lee, and he loves her too but she is so far above him. The Captain Matthew Palmer loves Little Buttercup but she is just a bum boat woman and therefore not good enough for him. The other not so able seamen are Matthew Kellett as the bitterly resentful Dick Deadeye and the bossy Bobstay played by a very attractive tall mezzo soprano Hannah Crerar.
The monstrous female chorus of Joseph’s relatives ( his sisters and his cousins and his aunts ) have been cut right down with a ridiculous Catrine KIrkman as his first cousin.
Rachel Szmukler’s set of a yellow submarine is detailed and something worth looking at as Ian Wilson lights it up before the show so that the auidience has a chance to see all the visual information. It helps to set up the feeling of happy anticipation as the Sailors take their places on their bunks. So interesting that the female sailor has a little clothes line with her knickers and socks drying there and an alarm clock so that they are all up in time to start the show.

This is the 6th G and S production by the Charles Court Opera and it is truly fabulous and a huge Easter treat.

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