Review: The Pirates of Penzance

Pirates of Penzance. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
Pirates of Penzance. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
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THE am-dram groups of the Capital have certainly upped the ante in the past year or so.

King’s Theatre

Just like Southern Light’s recent showing of Oliver at the King’s, The Edinburgh Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s Pirates Of Penzance is justifiably on a par with professional operatic companies.

Pirates swash their buckles, sirens lull their sailors, booty is plundered, and rum is swilled.

Indeed, the latter may account for the show’s only notable failing, a choreographed scene between the maidens and the police resembling a real drunken walk home.

Still, the set is most dashing, the costumes equally handsome, and in EDGAS stalwarts Gillian Robertson and Jan Lawson, the company has two actors who can effortlessly steer a 60-strong cast into bay.

Playing buxom wench Mabel, Robertson’s impressive lung capacity could shatter a glass in the upstairs bar. A fine actor, too, her reactions would charm the pants off any scurvy dog.

Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow character is a perfect example of latter-day, land-lubbing buffoonery, and the actors could use his inspiration to ham things up a bit more.

Ironically, a cardboard cut-out of Sparrow is killed off just as we’re about to dock in Cornwall.

A ‘shot’ at modern conventions? Whatever the case, we can be thankful Lawson has returned to play Major-General Stanley a second time - his cartoonish appearance, energetic tom-foolery and ability to wrap a tongue around WS Gilbert’s rhyme-busting lyrics are well worth parting with a few gold coins for.

Michael McFarlane, on the other hand, isn’t fooling anyone into thinking he’s 21-year-old pirate, Frederic.

Anybody who thinks he’s leaped too many years, however, may want to bear witness to his tender love-song alongside Robertson, where our ‘young’ Pirate parts with his lover in order to maintain his sense of duty among the swabs.

Musically, David Lyle has induced a walk-the-plank mentality from his orchestra.

Note-perfect, the timing would impress the great Sullivan himself. Even Andrew Crawford as Sergeant of the Police is on the ‘beat’.

Overall then, a faithful and accurate portrayal of the 136-year-old classic. More comedy, though, please, Pirates.

Run ends Saturday