Pirates of Penzance

Date 9th June 2016
Society Matlock G & S Society
Venue Medway Community Centre, Bakewell
Type of Production Musical
Director Nic Wilson
Musical Director Melanie Gilbert


Author: Joyce Handbury

In this small venue there isn’t room for much in the way of ‘sets’ but two ‘trucks’ were used to great effect. In Act 1 they had lovely painted sea scenes on them and for Act 2 churches with the addition of a back projection of a church window and a moon. In this contemporary interpretation we meet a pirate re-enactment group who appear in modern garb and from a dressing-up box proceed to change into pirate attire. A few jokes are interspersed alongside the playful sword fighting and of course out come the mobile phones for the taking of ‘selfies’ even getting an audience member to participate. It isn’t long before a walking group of  ‘modern maidens’ arrive on the scene dressed in appropriate hiking gear with the exception of three young ladies less suitably attired for hiking especially the leading lady who was wearing the shortest of shorts and extremely high wedged shoes. Max Taylor was commanding and convincing as the Pirate King. He has great stage presence and his excellent singing enhanced a most dynamic performance and Ken Watson was first-rate as Samuel, his Lieutenant (loved the parrot). Andrew Moore was so impressive as Frederic, his superb singing, his naturalness, his total commitment to the role were all delivered superbly. Lizzy Blades was delightful as Mabel, vocally outstanding, she hit those high notes effortlessly and I was so pleased when she removed her shoes before chasing Frederic around the ‘stage’. Her sisters, Edith, Kate and Isabel were impressively played by Lesley Kraushaar, Susan Deveney and Rachel Callen. Nic Wilson was terrific as Major-General Stanley appearing initially in an immaculate safari outfit. His impeccable rendition of the signature patter song ‘I am the very model of a modern Major-General’, with updated references, was flawlessly enunciated. Angela Robinson really immersed herself into the character of Ruth, the piratical maid of all work. Her Cornish accent, her facial expressions, her desperate attempts to gain the affection of Frederick all made for a spirited performance. A rather depleted police force consisted of a Senior and Junior Sergeant. David Stokes was splendid as the Senior Sergeant, armed and flourishing up to date weaponry, he boldly led the motley crowd of ‘assistants’ (armed with drills, hammers etc.) around the stage in pursuit of the Pirate King. I thought Liddy Buswell was excellent as the Junior Sergeant she has such a lovely singing voice and a very natural stage presence and together they certainly notched up the comedy. The singing of all the soloists and chorus members was superb as was the eight piece orchestra. I must just mention ‘Wally’ the ever present and unobtrusive photographer, unassumingly and astutely played, sadly, by an anonymous person! It was obvious that everyone on the ‘stage’ was totally immersed in this production and thoroughly enjoying themselves. It was fun- packed, light hearted and a hugely enjoyable modern slant on this very popular Gilbert and Sullivan show. Congratulations to all involved.