Writers and composers : Gilbert and Sullivan
Director: Sasha Regan
Reviewer: Marina Spark
All male casts are often used to bring a fresh approach to classics and generally find success at least owing in part to the novelty of a drag act. Sasha Regan’s all-male The Mikado or The Town Of Titipu exceeds these normal successes and delivers Gilbert and Sullivan’s work in the manner that would have made the Victorian legends.
This is not Regan’s first foray into the world of an all-male Gilbert and Sullivan and she brings with her many seasoned professionals from her previous productions. Regan has a clear and comprehensive grasp of how to use her cast to the best of their talents. Regan does not seek to modernise the classic light opera but instead goes back to its roots and finds its principle features with great success.
The all-male cast in this production is not a fad or gimmick and while it does serve to lift the more slapstick elements of the humour there are performances that the most seasoned Soprano would be proud of. The ensemble are simply delightful and relish the mischief of The Mikado. The way in which these performers seamlessly and effortlessly interact with each other shows the strength of their connection as a cast.
There were a number of standout performances but it must be said that it is rare to see a cast that works quite so well together. Particular mention must go to Alan Richardson who plays Yum-Yum. Richardson’s voice needs to be heard to be believed. His power, precision and pitch is nothing short of miraculous. Katisha is played by Alex Weatherhill. Weatherhill brings power, comedy and pathos to the stage. David McKechnie plays Ko-Ko, the ill-fated Lord High Executioner. McKechnie has an incredible sense of comic timing and physicality, managing to steal the spotlight despite being surrounded by other vivid caricatures.
The set by Ryan Dawson Laight is effective, functional, and dynamically utilised throughout. Despite the usual constraints of being a touring company the scene is set from the off and owning to the quality of the other aspects of the performance, it does not need to do any more than it does.
Unusually the instrumental work comes from a single piano played by musical director Richard Baker. This one man orchestra is clearly an incredibly talented musician as well as a gifted musical director, who balances conducting singers with almost non-stop piano playing.
This is a first-rate revival of a production that is over 130 years old. The Mikado is as relevant and raucously funny as the day it opened. Regan and her company do the production true justice. A real pedant may find that some of the lyrics are lost among the heavier accents but this does little to detract from the enjoyment of this fantastic production.
This is a family friendly show with something for everyone and will not disappoint. A better introduction to Gilbert and Sullivan will not be found elsewhere and seasoned fans will leave the auditorium raving about the show.
Runs until 10th June 2017 | Image: Scott Rylander