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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

HMS Pinafore at The King's Head

HMS Pinafore brings back many happy memories for me. At 15 I performed in Gilbert and Sullivan's classic for a school production and revelled in the upbeat numbers and silly dances. This comic operetta is the fourth collaboration between Arthur Sullivan (music) and W.S Gilbert (words) and received international acclaim unlike any before.

The story takes place on the great ship, HMS Pinafore. The captain’s daughter, Josephine loves a lowly sailor, Ralph Rackstraw and the romance proceeds despite the difference in their ranks. Her father has other plans and has arranged for Josephine to marry Sir Joseph Porter. We watch as the young damsel battles between her duty and heart, with some hilarious surprises along the way.

This was, by far, the best production I have seen at the King’s Head. This venue often hosts young opera companies tackling big romantic works (challenging for even the most experienced of singers); G&S is certainly more do-able for young professionals than Puccini. HMS Pinafore is a piece that suits this setting as well, and they adorn the plain black matchbox stage perfectly. Designer James Perkins uses simple props to add character and magic to the set, I particularly liked the hanging sun and moon, smiling down over the action on stage.

John Savourin directs and choreographs as well as being a hilarious Captain Corcoran with wit and charm by the bucketload. He stages the show simply but maintains a real focus, I was truly captivated throughout. David Menezes is less exuberant as the slightly pathetic Ralph Rackstraw. His voice is pleasing enough, but sadly his unchanging limp expression means he is rather uninteresting to watch. He is my only reservation, the rest of the cast are energetic, taking special care to pronounce every syllable of Gilbert’s words, and using the humour to their advantage.

A piano duo replaces Sullivan’s orchestra, and what a triumph they are too. Exceedingly talented David Eaton and James Young (of ‘The Eaton-Young Piano Duo’) bounce about on the piano stool giving a wonderfully joyous rendition of the famous score.

It seems a fun night was had by all, the audience left chuckling satisfied by the evening’s entertainment.

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