The Pirates of Penzance
The Empire Theatre
THERE is plenty of swashbuckling fun to be had if you board ship with Scottish Opera and the D’Oyly Carte Opera and their revival of "The Pirates of Penzance".
Adding a touch of Monty Python-esque absurdity to what was already a pretty silly story to start with, might have proved a step too far, but director Martin Lloyd Evans production gets the balance just right.
The show’s cartoonish sets, scene=setting map and seagull and a guest appearance from a Very Important Person that might well have been choreographed by Terry Gilliam all spell out that this is about entertainment first and foremost, and give or take the odd lull, that is just what it does.
If that approach was to be summed up by just one character, then it would be Graeme Broadbent’s Sergeant of police, giving a performance so animated that it could come have straight from a Loony Tunes short with his slightly manic Cheshire cat grin and a rubber-legged walk that would give John Cleese a run for his money.
However, it is just one crowd-pleasing turn in an evening that is full of them.
Richard Suart’s fluid and fast flowing patter as the very model of a modern Major-General was always going to be a highlight, while Steven Page relishes his chance to dominate his motley crew as the charismatic Pirate King.
Also impressive is Stephanie Corley, who shares the role of heroine Mabel on alternate nights with Ellie Laugharne. She can be touching in the more tender moments, but she is funny too, her vocal pyrotechnics hinting hilariously at one reason why she falls so quickly for the dashing ex-pirate Frederick (a delightful Nicholas Sharratt) — she is ever so slightly bonkers.
As her somewhat older rival in love, Ruth, Rosie Aldridge may have the most unflattering role in all of Gilbert and Sullivan, but she is a hoot in her comic role.
However, all the female cast deserve much praise for being able to perform at all in the sauna-like heat of Eden Court last Thursday in full Victorian get up, bustles and all. It must have come as a massive relief to slip into the nighties of the second act.
The Scottish Opera and D'Oyly Carte's production of The Pirates of Penzance continues at Eden Court on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th June.