RUDDIGORE or THE WITCH’S CURSE.
written by W.S> Gilbert composed by Arthur Sullivan.
King’s Head Theatre
115 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1QN to 14 March 2015.
Mon – Sat 7pm. Mat3pm 7 & 14 March.
Runs 2 hr 20 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0207 478 0160
Review: William Russell 19 February
Resurrected and a Ruddy Bore
Just why the admirable Charles Court Opera Company should choose this least of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas to mark its 10th birthday – and many happy returns – is anybody’s guess. Other than the company has done several of the better ones already and the little known Princess Ida has been bagged by the Finborough theatre. The opera, which satirises the melodramas of the day with bad baronets, lovelorn and mad maidens, ghosts and horrible curses, followed the Mikado and the strain on the collaborators was beginning to show.
Reducing it to a cast of nine, who work very hard indeed, does not help things although director John Savournin has come up with a splendidly ingenuous solution to the problem of the ghosts of the assorted bad baronets of the cursed Murgatroyd family who appear in Act Two.
But the score is thin, the patter songs sound terribly familiar and the plot rather creaks. Farmer Robin Oakapple is exposed as the real baronet doomed to commit a crime a day and not his younger brother Despard. Robin had faked his death to escape the witch’s curse. This leads to all sorts of complications involving Rose Maybud, the village maiden in love with Robin – or anyone who comes along – that do not add up to very much and things really only buck up when the splendid Mr Savournin, who plays Sir Despard, arrives on the scene.
Tall, dark and almost handsome, looking like Dracula’s younger brother, gifted as both comic and singer, he is very funny indeed. CCOC stalwart Amy J Payne does her best with Dame Hannah, the obligatory Gilbertian spinster, but is not even given a decent song to sing, and Matthew Kellett, another regular, is a feisty little Robin – the contrast with beanpole “brother” Savournin is hilarious.
But after the company’s witty take on Patience last year this is a sad disappointment. The blame, however, rests with Gilbert and Sullivan. Ruddigore really is not very good. Sullivan may have exhausted himself with the Mikado, but he was also concentrating on his serious music while this one was gestating and Gilbert seems to have gone through the motions. But anything with Mr Savournin is worth going to and for people who collect rarities this is a rarity to collect.
Ruth: Susanna Buckle
Dame Hannah: Amy J Payne
Robin Oakapple: Matthew Kellett
Richard Dauntless: Philip Lee
Old Adam: Simon Masterton-Smith
Mad Margaret: Cassandra McCowan
Rose Maybud: Rebecca Moon
Sir Despard: John Savournin
Zorah: Andrea Tweedale
Sylvia Clarke will play Dame Hanna on 20, 21, 26 and 28 February & 7 March.
Director: John Savournin
Musical Director: David Eaton
Designer: James Perkins
Choreographer: Phillip Aiden
Lighting Designer: Nic Holdridge
Assistant Designer: Jennie Quirk