Trial by Jury and HMS Pinafore

Date 8th June 2017
Society Matlock G & S Society
Venue Medway Community Centre, Bakewell
Type of Production Musical
Director Angela Robinson, Nic Wilson
Musical Director Melanie Gilbert


Author: Joyce Handbury

Matlock G&S Society celebrated their 25th. anniversary by giving their audience ‘2 for 1’ as it were, and what a bargain it proved to be! This joint production of  Trial by Jury and HMS Pinafore, both performed in a traditional way, was a joy to behold. The performance space is very, very small with the front row of the audience literally a few feet away from the cast, so, as I have said before, there is nowhere to hide and I like this because you can see all of their facial expressions and in this aspect, in both productions, all of the cast were totally absorbed in the action and their enthusiasm knew no bounds. The first offering was Trial by Jury. It is set in a court of law and is built around a case of breach of promise where Edwin has jilted Angelina and she is suing him. The Learned Judge, resplendent in robes and a magnificent wig, was superbly played by Nic Wilson. He has such natural stage presence, excellent enunciation and wonderful comic timing. Angelina, in full wedding attire, was delightfully played by Rachael Callen. She has a lovely, pure, sweet singing voice but occasionally this was overshadowed by the orchestra. Max Taylor was excellent as Edwin, the bigoted and volatile plaintiff. His powerful singing voice was very much in evidence as he tried, in vain, to wheedle his way out of ‘a nice dilemma’. Good support came from Richard Simmonds as The Usher, desperately trying to keep control of the court room, from Cathreen Henwood as the Counsel for the Plaintiff, (her facial expressions, in particular, were top-notch) and from David Stokes as Foreman of the Jury. The men of the jury were in fine voice as were the bridesmaids and the ladies in the ‘public gallery’. A truly wonderful, humorous and colourful ‘Part One’. After the interval came HMS Pinafore and for this, the Judge’s rostrum was replaced by a magnificent ship’s steering wheel. The crew are sprucing up the ship to welcome on board the Rt. Hon Sir Joseph Porter, KCB, First Lord of the Admiralty. Captain Corcaran intends that his daughter, Josephine, will marry Sir Joseph but she is in love with a lower-class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, who also loves her, and eventually they decide to elope. Their plans are thwarted, but Buttercup in the blink of an eye, sorts it out! We again meet the indomitable Nic Wilson, who staggers on, complete with life-jacket over his splendiferous outfit, this time as Sir Joseph Porter. He totally excelled in every aspect of this role, what more can I say - it was a truly magnificent portrayal. Chris Hannant was very gentlemanly and ‘kind‘ as Captain Corcoran displaying a very dignified approach to the character. Andrew Moore was excellent in every way as Ralph Rackstraw. He is so natural on stage and his acting and singing were spot on for this role. Max Taylor also has great stage presence, he enjoyed and relished every moment as spiteful Dick Deadeye, and his powerful and impressive singing added much to the whole performance. Lizzy Blades was delightful as Josephine, every inch the young and confident daughter and the chemistry between herself and Ralph was lovely. She has a fine soprano singing voice getting up to those high notes with consummate ease. Susan Deveney was splendid as Little Buttercup as were Les Small as Bill Bobstay, David Stokes as Bob Becket and Liz McKenzie as Hebe. The crew were superbly well turned out, as were the Sisters, Cousins and Aunts and their harmonious singing and enthusiastic exuberance was so wonderfully impressive. I thoroughly enjoyed this ‘2 for 1’ and the finale rendition of ‘Oh Joy, Oh Rapture Unforeseen’, was just that, as indeed was the whole show. Congratulations to the Directors, Angela Robinson and Nic Wilson, to Musical Director Melanie Gilbert and her super orchestra, to the whole cast and to everyone involved for providing such a glorious evening of great entertainment. May I also offer my congratulations to the Society, on your 25th. anniversary.