Princess Ida

Date 3rd June 2016
Society Bath G & S Society
Venue The Wroughton Theatre, King Edward’s School, Bath
Type of Production Light Operetta
Director David Key-Pugh
Musical Director Kerry Bishop
Choreographer Delia Lee

Report

Author: Matthew Heaton

This was my second time to be asked to report on a Bath Gilbert & Sullivan Society Production and I’m very pleased to say that I enjoyed it even more than the first. It is always great to see a production that one has not seen before, but the joy to me with Gilbert and Sullivan is that the style and format means that you never seem too far away from what you know. The opera satirizes feminism, women's education and Darwinian evolution, which were controversial topics in conservative Victorian England, as well as the war between the sexes.

The set had a nice open stage area and the set was pretty traditional in a number of ways – a raised back rostrum, 2 rear stage entry points and a tradition set of well-painted backcloths. The back rostrum and steps were well-used throughout the production to give some height and levels.

The staging and feel of the show overall was also in a traditional style. However, it did drop into some more modern aspects on occasion, particularly to enhance the comic aspects of the show. We saw this through costume, props, hair and make-up. To me, the real beauty with Gilbert and Sullivan is how well it lends itself to be restaged and/or retold in order to present the story in a different way and to a different audience. I loved the humour that this created in this production – the three warriors and their portrayal as rugby players were a particular highlight to me. 

Lighting was subtle and generally both well cued and well-lit. Sound advice had been used and it was pleasing to hear the chorus work and the principal solos from the two hanging pick-up microphones. Very well-done here. All the properties seemed to be in place and were of a good standard. For costumes, hair and make-up we had a real mix of styles again here – from the more traditional to the modern spoof.

Delia Lee’s choreography was able to get the best out of people of all abilities for both the chorus and the principals. Musically, the show was generally very well sung. The sympathetic orchestra was well-paced and accurate under Kerry Bishop’s enthusiastic stewardship and the balance with chorus and principal solos was good.

                  

This show must be terrific fun for a chorus to do as they are so busy – particularly the ladies. Chorus singing was generally of a very good standard and the on-stage performances really enhanced the production.  This is a good show for principals too with plenty of interesting roles for men and women of all ages and an impressive line-up obtained for this production:

In summary, this was an entertaining and very funny production of Princess Ida, which I enjoyed very much. It did lead me to question why the production is performed so infrequently? The subject matter did seem relevant and the humour still worked well. Thank you to everyone at Bath Gilbert & Sullivan Society on another excellent production and for the hospitality extended again to myself and Owen. I look forward to your future productions!