The Idea – music by Gustav Holst libretto by Fritz Hart. The Brockley Jack Studio, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 to 9 October 2021. 4****. William Russell.

All praise o the Irrational Theatre company for taking this little operetta devised by Holst at the age of 22 when he was a student at the Royal College of Music with the help of his friend Hart and see just how relevant it is to today. It is something that could have been dreamt up by WS Gilbert and as well as brisk and funny lyrics the melodies do sound like those Arthur Sullivan might have composed. There is quite a lot of tra la la and fal la la.
The thing is one forgets that Gilbert was actually satirising the life of his times as the operas have become wrapped in a kind of comfort blanket for English audiences and the political barbs no longer hit home. The types of Englishman and woman he sent up, of course, still abound. All credit to director Paula Chitty for not doing the obvious and bestowing a blond wig upon the Prime Minister in this tale of a big idea.
The King is none too bright, the Queen bosses him, and life is difficult until the Prime Minister arrives with his big idea, which is that they pair should change places and the Queen should take over. This is approved of by the court but things do not go according to plan and the PM’s Big Idea proves to be a spectacularly Bad Idea.
It is performed and sung with relish – Valaria Perboni has has a nicely acid touch as HM and John Stivey bumbles to the manner born as the PM – by the entire cast. It is a rare delight staged with wit -director Chitty did the Costume and set design – and deserves to pop up all over place on the fringe and around after this short season. And the relevance to today needs no pointing up.

Ross Hobson, Valeria Perboni, Simon Mulligan, Elena Hogg, John Stivey.

Director, set and costume designer: Paula Chitty.
Lighting Designer: Colin Watkeys.
Musicians: Laurie O’Brien, Patrick Vincent.

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