THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE
Sale Gilbert and Sullivan Society
Director: Helen Fieldsend taken from Alastair Donkin’s original concept
Since the mother church's, the D’Oyly Opera Company, demise the works of Gilbert and Sullivan have been heated up, cooled, there has even been an all-male production, in fact there have been many, many ways of interpreting their genius.
This production was presented in a studio theatre, a whole new presentation for these traditional Savoyards. The company had to find a whole new way of performing with just two entrances and exits up stage left and right with the musicians stage right with the audience in touching distance, a very intimate setting.
The challenge was met head on. There was a lot of experience on the stage. The director took the best from their previous production of Pirates and made it fit the new space. Act 1 was a little tentative as the stage was inhabited but by act 2 everyone was relaxed and the slave of duty lost its shackles.
The scenery was just a suggestion making the statement of the costumes all the more important. All the costumes brought the story alive, it was a shame several of the cast left their glasses on (you can’t have historical costumes and Specsavers!). Lighting helped set the mood and the MD gave a good reading of the score.
All the principals looked as if they had stepped out of the pirate picture book that Frederic was reading. The Pirate Chief, (Tony Noden) and his band of noblemen who had gone wrong swashed their buckles. The humour of the pirate maid of all work, Ruth, was extracted by Janice Rendel.
Edward, a Sergeant of Police (John Mathias) and his so well-rehearsed police constables, captured the audience. The double chorus was everything it should be.
Edith (Helen Fieldsend), Kate (Jane Helyar), and Isobel (Nicola Rushby) were colourfully portrayed and supported well by the other Stanley siblings.
The patter role was in safe hands; Bobby Greatorex revealed with good diction that the Major-General knows everything except military matters.
Frederic (Stephen Othen) and Mable (Fran Pearson were typical Gilbertian hero and heroine.
This experience was a perfect opportunity for this company to break from the past and start to find a new way of interpreting these iconic works.
It is to be hoped that this will build a new audience and secure the future of the company. I, for one, look forward to seeing the company's next studio production. .