The Mikado, 4****, London

by W. S Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan.


The King’s Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street, Islington N1 1QN to 21 April 2018.
Tues – Sat 7.00 pm Mat Sat & Sun 3.00 pm.
Runs 2hr 20 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 0207 226 8561.
Review: William Russell 27 March.

Ko-Ko Pulls it off in style
John Savournin’s production of this, the most successful and arguably best loved of the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas fizzes along nicely and as usual with the Charles Court Opera company the singing is everything it should be. The problem with the opera is simple. The Japanese joke, which was topical when Gilbert wrote the libretto, is now almost as dead as the dodo and drowning the thing in kimonos and fans really does not work any longer. But what to do? Jonathan Miller famously solved it for the ENO with his production, all white set in the 1920s with tap dancers and flappers and the rest.
The Savournin solution is to set ut in the British consulate in Titipu, all leather sofas and stained glass, and then forget about it. Everyone, while patently European, plays their character as written, but the period is very much that of Daisy who pulled it off – the three little maids are in gym slips, the men are sharp suited minor diplomatic types and judging by the ghastly dresses the maids get to wear in Act Two, it takes place sometime in the 1950s.

But enough of that. If the concept does not work through it does not matter too much. Philip Lee is a splendid, hilarious, common as muck Ko-Ko – think Arthur Dailey – leaping from subterfuge to subterfuge, Matthew Palmer does Tom Barker in Dr Who mode as the Mikado with style, and Matthew Kellett is every inch the post war wide boy as Pooh- Bah. Just why Mr Savournin decided to turn Katisha into a drag queen role is a mystery, although Matthew Siveter sings strongly and avoids over doing it while being utterly ghastly. The decision doesn’t quite work and Katisha’s cod operatic scenes with the Mikado at the end strike a false note – Sullivan did jokes in music after all – but that is not Mr Siveter’s fault.

The women sing sweetly, Jack Roberts as Nanki-Poo is the perfect not quite shaving yet juvenile lead, although singing about wearing shreds and patches while in the uniform of the Titipu town band is a bit peculiar.
All in all if the world needs yet another production of The Mikado then this one fills that need very nicely indeed. The obligatory topical gags in the patter songs are up to scratch and the result is another hit for Charles Court.

The Mikado/ Pish-Tush: Matthew Palmer.
Nanki-Poo: Jack Roberts.
KoKo: Philip Lee except 6-8 April when John Savournin appears.
Poo-Bah: Matthew Kellett . Stephen Godard will play the role on 31 March, 1-7 April & 15-21 April.
Yum-Yum: Alys Roberts.
Pitti-Sing: Jessica Temple.
Peep-Bo: Corinne Cowling.
Katisha: Matthew Siveter.

Director: John Savournin.
Musical Director: David Eaton.
Choreographer: Damian Czarnecki.
Set& Costume Design: Rachel Szmukler.
Lighting Designer: Nicholas Holdridge.

2018-03-28 09:54:19

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