THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE
libretto by W S Gilbert music by Arthur S Sullivan.
Wilton’s Music Hall Graces Alley off Ensign Street E1 8JB To 16 May 2010.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 10min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7702 2789 (no booking fee).
www.wiltons.org.uk (booking fee).
Review: Geoff Ambler 20 April 2010.
All male pirates, sisters, policemen and model Major General. All magnificent.
This year’s second transfer from the remarkable Union Theatre sees their all male Gilbert and Sullivan Pirates of Penzance move to the characterful and atmospheric delight that is Wilton’s Music Hall in East London. (Wilton’s pre-show bar does some great food; try the pork pie and pickle).
Frederick was apprenticed to be a Pirate rather than a Pilot thanks to his nursemaid Ruth mis-hearing the instruction. Bound by his own sense of honour he completes his indenture before leaving forever to dedicate his life to his fellow-Pirates extermination. He soon meets a bevy of beautiful maidens in the form of Mabel and her sisters and much oper(etta)atic falling in love follows, along with mustachioed policemen, a Major General and a song about leap years.
More than a century has passed since Pirates delighted the Victorians and still Gilbert and Sullivan’s genius shows no sign of tarnish. Seriously brilliant, witty writing, convoluted rhyming and music that will spend a lifetime in your head pervades throughout. However this production brings a whole new dimension to its inherent hilarity; being an all-male production Ruth and the sisters are indeed remarkable, unceasingly hilarious and all quite male. The bevy of coquettish, yet shy sisters, flirt delightfully around Frederick, their femininity exaggerated to magnificent effect and their sopranos seemingly helium-fuelled.
The Union, under Southwark’s railway arches, regularly produces fringe excellence but Sasha Regan has truly surpassed even her highest standards with this operatic marvel. Russell Whitehead’s Frederick is every part the archetypal duty-bound Victorian and as Mabel Alan Richardson makes a wonderfully melodious leading lady; Samuel Holmes adds a bitter yet comic Ruth and Ricky Rojas’ Pirate King is simply glorious. However the entire cast are deserving of the highest praise. All male is not a distraction but a single component of a magical Victorian evening, hosted in a venue that would have been a musical palace back when Gilbert and Sullivan were tolerating each other’s company, writing about a Slave to Duty, his love and a band of inept pirates.
Frederick: Russell Whitehead.
Mabel: Alan Richardson.
Pirate King: Ricky Rojas.
Ruth: Samuel J Holmes.
Major General: Fred Broom.
Sergeant of the Police: Joe Maddison.
Samuel: Michael Burgen.
Edith: Stewart Charlesworth.
Connie: Lee Greenaway.
Isabel: Chris Theo-Cook.
Kate: Christopher Wheeler.
Ensemble : Adam Lewis Ford, Raymond Tait, Joseph Davenport, Craig Daniel Adams, Darragh O’Leary, Sam Thackray, Gianni Onori.
Director: Sasha Regan.
Designer: Robyn Wilson.
Lighting: Steve Miller.
Musical Director: Chris Mundy.
Choreographer: Lizzi Gee.
Costume: Frances Jones.