book and lyrics by W S Gilbert music by Arthur Sullivan.
Stephen Joseph Theatre Westborough YO11 1JW In rep to 4 September.
19-20, 23-24, 27, 30 Aug, 2, 3 Sept 7.30pm.
8pm 21, 28 Aug, 4 Sept.
2.30pm 21, 28 Aug, 4 Sept.
Audio-described 21 Aug 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 01723 370541.
then New Vic Theatre Newcastle-under-Lyme 7-18 September.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat 18 Sept 2.15pm.
TICKETS: 01782 717962.
then The Old Laundry 21-25 September 2010.
8pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
TICKETS: 08445 040604.
Runs 2hr 35min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 11 August.
Another winning innings for Chris Monks’ adaptation.
Pish-Tush, Pooh-Bah, Titipu; who believes Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado is really about Japan (it’s hard to imagine Victorian lips innocently shaping the name of Titipu, the town where the tale is set)? Jonathan Miller notably de-Japanesed the operetta in his English National Opera production, recognising it as a satire on English ways. And Chris Monks crowns this with his cricket-pitch setting. As the opening chorus sings of Japanese rituals, they pass cricket-bats raised aloft to each other like Samurai swords, and go through pre-match rituals of bending and flexing.
This is as formal a world as any, and it’s no wonder any legal matter requires consultation with the pages of Wisden. Or that the innocent offenders face death got-up as stumps, with giant bails on their head, to be bowled-out. And the gentlemanly rituals of cricket offer no protection when the game, complete with wheezing groundsman and meek cricket-wife, is invaded by a trio of hockey-playing girls fresh out of school.
Explosively aware of their physicality, the young maids from school (one with a distinctive Mersey-sound comic edge) take over the pitch, just as Kraig Thornber’s Mikado is repeatedly interrupted by Lesley Jupp’s fearful Katisha, “his daughter-in-law-elect”. Thornber’s imposing appearance seems to fit ill with his mild manner; but it’s soon evident it’s just right. This Mikado is benign in intent (flirting may be a capital offence, but it seems the only one there is). The on/off doomed lovers Florence Andrews and Dominic Brewer and Kieran Buckeridge as Ko-Ko, who clumsily records his posterior for posterity in the team photo yet has a strange kind of dignity, are also outstanding, while Claude Close reveals a fine singing voice alongside his well-known comic expertise as a genially venial Pooh-Bah.
Chris Monks, directing his own adaptation, and choreographer Beverley Norris-Edmunds provide constant humorous invention, new jokes sometimes pouring out before earlier laughs are done. Add a high musical level (actors not in the scene are often off to join the Titipu town-band in one corner), and anyone around Scarborough, the Potteries or Bowness should book now and prepare to be bowled over.
Yum-Yum: Florence Andrews.
Pish-Tush: Jared Ashe.
1st Team Captain: Pete Ashmore.
Nanki-Poo: Dominic Brewer.
Ko-Ko: Kieran Buckeridge.
Pooh-Bah: Claude Close.
Pitti-Sing: Clare Corbett.
Katisha: Julie Jupp.
Peep-Bo: Naomi Said.
Mrs Pooh-Bah: Lisa Stevenson.
The Mikado: Kraig Thornber.
Director: Chris Monks.
Designer: Sue Condie.
Lighting: Paul Stear.
Musical Director: Richard Atkinson.
Choreographer: Beverley Norris-Edmunds.
Assistant choreographer: Ella Vale.