Preview: EDGAS in The Pirates Of Penzance

Pirates of Penzance. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
Pirates of Penzance. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
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FROM the very model of a modern major-general to the policemen’s chorus; the Pirate King to Frederic, the pirates’ coming of age apprentice, and let’s not forget Mable, his love, or Ruth, his nurse.

Yes, to celebrate their 90th anniversary, the Edinburgh Gilbert And Sullivan Society (EDGAS) bring the pair’s most popular work, The Pirates of Penzance, to The King’s this week.

It’s an absurd and surreal tale. Frederic, an accidental pirate apprentice, has sworn to find love and bring his tender-hearted pirates to justice the day he reaches 21.

Having fallen for Mabel, he enlists the local constabulary to fight, but his plans are thwarted when the Pirate King points out he is still duty-bound to the buccaneers as he was born in a leap year, on 29 February.

Consquently, he must remain apprenticed to the pirates until his 21st birthday, 63 years away.

Bound by an unnaturally strong sense of duty, Frederic is torn between rejoining the pirates or aiding the police charged with capturing them.

Featuring a cast of more than 60 local amateur performers, accompanied by a full orchestra under the direction of David Lyle, The Pirates of Penzance, with its Python-esque absurdities, remains as fresh today as it was at its London debut 135 years ago in April 1880, says director Alan Borthwick.

“Packed with great comedy, swashbuckling action and catchy tunes, you’ll keep whistling for days,” he promises.

“Pirates will guarantee you an exciting evening of musical theatre for all the family.”

Founded in 1924 to perform and appreciate the works of WS Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, EDGAS produces a main show every spring at the King’s Theatre.

Commenting on the society’s 90th anniversary, Lord Provost, Councillor Donald Wilson, says, “I think it is fantastic that the legacy of Gilbert and Sullivan continues in Edinburgh.

“Musical theatre would not be what is today without the influence of Gilbert and Sullivan, whose lyrics have inspired generations of stage performers.

“It is always heartening to hear the sounds of classics from these hugely talented musicians.”

The Pirates of Penzance, King’s Theatre, Leven Street, tonight-Saturday, 7.30pm (matinee 2.30pm), £15-£22, 0131-529 6000