Express G&S by John Savournin & David Eaton. The Pleasance, North Road, London N7 to 2 July 2021. 3***. William Russell

Savoyards should relish this well sung jolly revue created by Savournin and Eaton using the songs of Gilbert and Sullivan and a plot derived from the works of Agatha Christie. That the songs are well sung is no surprise. The Charles Court Opera Company are seasoned Savoyards and Catrine Kirkman’s rendering of the Moon and I from the Mikado and Lady Jane’s “passing by” song from Patience were a treat for the ear. Indeed I may never have heard them better sung. The plot is based on one joke – Philippe Pierot (Matthew Kellett), a detective, is being served afternoon tea on trolley or tea cart by a waitress (Kirkman). As the tale continues she comes in crying foul play – someone has destroyed her doily cart. The patter songs are briskly sung by Philip Lee, Kellett as always is good value although his “Poirot” is perhaps slightly too muted given the ham we have been accustomed to from the likes of Ustinov, Suchet and Branagh.
The musical accompaniment is provided by David Eaton at the piano – it would have been nice had he joined in from time to time as one does feel that a few more players would have improved the show. In spite of all the trebling and quadrupling being very well done one wants more people on stage. The fact is is, as they say, there is no show without Punch and the great Savournin does not appear. One appearance even would have solved the problem. Like it or not it is a bit like going to see Morecambe and Wise and getting only Ernie or watching Richard without Judy.
The show works well musically although verbally one does from time to time think they might have worked a little harder updating Gilbert’s words and that D’Oiley Carte doily joke does get flogged to death. The revamped Pleasance as a cabaret theatre – it now has galleries, some with stool seats, others with tables and tables at the stalls level at all of which drinks are served which means no face masks need be worn, for which much thanks. For this show it is a perfect venue. Were it for the singing only I would have given the show four stars, but by the standards of Charles Court this is a three star show.

Philippe Pierot: Matthew Kellett.
Everybody else: Catrine Kirkman & Philip Lee.
Director: John Savournin.
Musical Director: David Eaton.
Designer: Jessie Huckin.
Lighting: Ian Wilson.

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