The Yeomen Of The Guard
10th October 2014
Poynton Civic Centre
Type of Production
Author: Kevin Proctor
The structure of “Yeomen” stands out from the other G&S operas I've seen, I've read up on this work and discovered that by the time this piece was written (in 1888), Sullivan was heartily fed up with his partnership with Gilbert, feeling cornered into writing trivial works not worthy of his talent and very much wanting to tackle a ‘proper’ Grand Opera. The effect is something of a fusion: there's plenty of the light-hearted fun numbers and musical pastiche in “Yoemen” that make up the usual G&S style, but grafted onto these are a series of themes which are altogether far deeper than the norm for the duo. The quantity of dialogue set this piece apart from the offset, hinting that this was a different feel of show to their other works but most of all I was particularly struck by the ending of the piece which was distinctly ambiguous and not the usual "happily ever after" - making it clear that G&S had certainly delivered a new direction with their work.
The actor playing Jack Point (whose name was missing in the programme) impressed as the unfortunate jester, getting through folksong pastiche, patter songs and song-and-dance routines with gusto. Andrew Pugh gave us a pleasant tenor voice as Fairfax, Ian Whitfield delivered a strong calibre of stagecraft as Sergeant Meryll as did the splendid Jeanette Wood as the "housekeeper of the Tower" Dame Carruthers.
My favourite number in the show was “Strange Adventure” – this group excel with small ensemble close harmony work, each line was crystal clear and balanced beautifully, a delight!
I know I've mentioned this before and I still feel it poignant enough to mention it again; as these productions have a static set for the shows duration, I do feel that investing in a more creative performing space (set design) would be more appealing to the eye and would aid you to deliver a more interesting production from a visual prospective. A simple cloth (regardless of how nicely it’s painted) is not enough to keep audiences eyes entertained for 2 hours - I’d really like to see a more creative approach towards set design in your future productions.
All across our district, I hear time and time again how much of a struggle it is for societies to sell tickets – I was delighted to see that Poynton G&S have done a marvellous job at getting bums on seats, the civic hall was packed – who ever said the G&S is a dying fashion!?