Book and lyrics by W.S. Gilbert music by Arthur Sullivan.
Union Theatre 204 Union Street SE1 0LX to 10 March 2012.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Sun 6pm. Mat Sun & 10 March 2pm.
Runs 2hr 10min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 726 9876.
Review: William Russell 16 February.
Too, too utterly divine.
Sasha Regan’s sparkling production of this sturdy old G&S standard about aesthetes of the Wildean type (although it is not actually about Oscar) and their followers proves there is lots of life in it still.
The gimmick, of course, is to be another of her productions with an all-male cast. It could be ghastly, but it works beautifully. Gilbert was always camp, but high camp, and the boys playing the 20 lovesick maidens in little gingham dresses and maybe a cardie or two – ten of them at most actually – hit just the right tone. No wigs, no false bosoms, and if there is hair on chest or legs – ignore it.
As Patience, the dairy maid with odd ideas about love and a mind of her own, Edward Charles Bernstone is splendidly contrary. Dominic Brewer as Bunthorne, the “greenery yallery” lily-carrying poet the maidens love is delightfully wet, Sean Quigley is very funny as younger than usual Lady Jane, the spinster who is spreading here, there and everywhere, and Stiofan O’Doherty as the rival poet, Grosvenor, loved by all, including himself, is suitably gorgeous with a voice to match.
The singing is good, whether in their real voices as the love-deprived dragoons or assorted falsetto tones as the lovesick maids, and Richard Bates at the piano delivers the score in style. Patience has lots of lovely songs. Maybe they could have updated one or two of Gilbert’s lines – those names he drops are not familiar to all – although Edward Simpson delivers the Colonel of Dragoons’ patter song impeccably – but in the end this show is a total delight. Next time Sasha, what about Princess Ida?
Patience: Edward Charles Bernstone.
Archibald Grosvenor: Stiofan O’Doherty.
Reginald Bunthorne: Dominic Brewer.
Lady Jane: Sean Quigley.
The Duke of Dunstable: Matthew James Willis.
Major Murgatroyd: Thomas Heard.
Lady Angela: James Lacey.
Lady Saphir: Mark Gillon.
Lady Ella: Matthew Markwick.
Maiden: Oliver Metcalfe.
Maiden: William Whelton.
Maiden: Daniel Bartlett.
Dragoon: Jarred Page.
Dragoon: Raymond Tait.
Dragoon: Gareth Andrews.
Director: Sasha Regan.
Designer: Kingsley Hall.
Lighting: Steve Miller.
Musical Supervisor: Michael England.
Musical Director: Richard Bates.
Choreographer: Drew McOnie.