|Date||9th May 2018|
|Society||East Norfolk Operatic Society|
|Venue||Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich|
|Type of Production||G&S|
|Musical Director||Roz Swetman|
Author: Terry Rymer
To create a set to suit the story is an essential part of any self respecting G and S show and ENOS have it well and truly sorted…All home produced and built, we were greeted by a magnificent set complimented with levels and entrances suitably placed to not be obtrusive to the action, with distant garden views and a staircase to an ‘artists’ garret. The overture nicely depicted with Housekeeper and Maids of the chorus busily pottering about and adding a nice touch of humour with a flash of bloomers, a struggle with a milk churn, robust dusting and various other household ch The Bunthorne Castle, now converted, and ‘home’ aka the fun anagram ‘Bachelors Nut Nest’, (was that intentional?) to Reginald Bunthorne (Thomas Monument) the ‘fleshly’ poet who was to be seen ‘composing’ his literary poetic masterpieces, or were they? Well, the effervescent chorus of willing ladies thought they were, as the premise of aesthetic transfiguration, was a constant if somewhat overwhelming theme. Bunthorne showed a well balanced self promoting persona, as one who admitted that he was actually a fraud but enjoyed the admiration and attentions of the local ladies, to whom he would recite his poetry… To the irritation of the Dragoons Regiment stationed nearby…they were sure their uniforms had the desired effect of attracting the ladies attentions… The leading trio of Colonel Calverley (Keith Swetman) the gruff tough old campaigner, a part made for him, Major Murgatroyd (Clive Swetman) and Lieut the gentleman Duke of Dunstable (Patrick Monk), provided constant enjoyable performances, as did the motley crew of Dragoons with some super comedic moments and good supporting vocals… However their lack of understanding of Aestheticism led to their being rebuffed and distraught. They were bewildered at the change of allegiance shown by the very active but easily influenced female chorus led by some strong performances and accomplished vocals from Lady Angela (Ayshea Christian), Lady Saphir (Harriet Watson), Lady Ella (Rachel Goodchild) and the very watchable Lady Jane (Teresa Clayton) who added some excellent comedic moments as she attempted to tempt Bunthorne with her ‘fading’ charms…her second act solo ‘Sad is That Womans Lot’, with cello, was a real audience pleaser !
Of course the real temptation for Bunthorne was Patience (Kizzy Lilbourne), the lowly Dairy Maid. Her strong soprano vocals shone through as she commanded the stage and provided the not very worldly but morally upstanding attitude to ‘love’. Hers was a well portrayed persona with just enough resistance to allow for doubt. The scene with the rival ‘Idyllic’ poet Archibald Grosvenor (Edmund Ramsdale) as she denies his attentions, and yet encourages them was a joy to observe. Grosvenor had the unenviable task of convincing the whole gaggle of newly converted aesthetic supporting ladies, that he was the most beautiful and perfect man they would ever encounter, and in so doing he had also to convince himself, a task in which he excelled! His was an effective OTT performance of the utmost style as in truth, apart from his attire, his affectations were truly a total sham, although he really did believe it and the admiration of the ladies reinforced his opinion! He was madly in love with Patience, a long lost love from school days…and she with him! A love denied by his perfect persona as Patience convinces him that love has to be unselfish! Until the remarkable transformation, suggested by Bunthorne, and realisation that he could be ‘normal’ after all! Enter the newly reborn ‘Alfred Doolittle’ lookalike with accent to match and the whole love story can resolve as Patience can at last show her true love for him. The rejected Bunthorne is therefore driven to raffle his affections in an unlikely and unsuccessful attempt to procure a suitor.
The Rapturous (Rapture is a favourite G and S word ), a well earned accolade for the chorus of ‘Well-born’ Maidens who were as one, a well drilled and effective vocal support, whilst maintaining individual characterisations. I do like to see them all having their own names and identities. They were immaculate and a tremendous and well used adjunct to the musicality of this less well known G and S story…perhaps written to parody some eminent poets and writers of the era! Songs were consequently less well known, but many duets and ensemble numbers were delivered with the usual finesse we come to expect from ENOS and the piece had some lovely comedic asides to entertain. I particularly enjoyed the Dragoon trio in Act 2 with ‘It’s Clear That Mediaeval Art’…almost a flavour of pantomime and certainly a lovely tongue in cheek portrayal and rendition! We even had a football supporters parody song, ‘When I Go Out of the Door’, from the two poets with a mention for Delia, and scarves to represent our two ‘local’ teams…Good fun…whatever next!
This piece has a considerable amount of plain spoken dialogue and this was well presented and the acting equalled the strong vocals from principals and chorus alike. A well done, again to the energy of MD (Roz Swetman), who clearly lives every sung word and conducts the small well balanced Orchestra with relish! This was an excellent all round show with no one part outshining another and a larger than usual chorus involvement for both Male (Dragoons) and Female (Maidens) who relished the spotlight!
I must particularly commend the ‘new’ Director (Pat Tegerdine) for allowing the humour of the piece to shine through and for some creative moments and entrances to keep the action fresh! Necessary, as the story is not the most gripping from the prolific duo! ( I wish I could have read the highly informative programme, with its history and glossary of terms, beforehand!)
I do believe that the works of Gilbert and Sullivan , well presented, deserve the same prominence in English history as the works of William Shakespeare, and ENOS certainly play their part in sustaining that interest…We look forward to next years 60th Anniversary and their production of the ‘Mikado’…Keep up the good work!