G&S Society swap King’s for Festival

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THERE’s nothing the Edinburgh Gilbert And Sullivan Society like better than a good challenge.

That’s what they faced when told the King’s Theatre, their traditional home, wouldn’t be available for their annual production.

Not easily deterred, however, the Edinburgh amateurs simply relocated to the Festival Theatre where, next week, they present Iolanthe, complete with a professionally produced animation from Tom McDermott.

The animation allowed the Company to jump at the chance of introducing a new level of spectacle to the well-loved fairy opera, which pits the supernatural powers of the Fairy Queen against that greatest of Britain’s traditional institutions - the House of Lords.

When the Fairy Queen sends Strephon into Parliament, she resolves his dithering over party allegiance by returning him as a Liberal Conservative, a good joke in the 19th century that became meaningless in the 20th, but is suddenly relevant again.

Throw in a Lord Chancellor consumed by conflicts of interest between love and duty in his two capacities; a pair of hereditary peers with ‘no capacity whatever’, and a couple of decorative shepherd folk, one of whom is ‘half a fairy’ - all enlivened by Sullivan’s frothiest melodies - and you have a perfect morale booster.

Directed by Alan Borthwick, with musical direction by David Lyle, the production has been described as ‘G&S for the 21st century’ and features a 70-strong cast.

Iolanthe, Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, Tuesday-Saturday, 7.30pm (matinee 2.30pm), £14-£19, 0131-529 6000