Saturday, September 22

Sasha Reagan’s All Male Iolanthe

- June 20, 2018

From the very opening moments, it is obvious that what to purists might seem to be irreverence, this is no such thing. This is passionately reverent, Reagan and her beautifully talented all male cast are breathing love and fire into the works of two of the world’s greatest composers of musical drama, Gilbert and Sullivan. Oh yes, G&S come in for a lot of flack – not serious, “light”, comic… Well maybe in part that’s so, but there are beautiful songs, solos, duets, trios… need I say more. And as for content, well there is little doubt that they were the brightest and wittiest satirists of their day, punching at the establishment and society with brilliantly constructed lyrics and plots. Reagan recognises and champions all this and she does it with artistry and pure theatrical magic. There’s a simplicity to the production that works, no technological wizardry here, just real stage craft, simple but effective sets and clever costumes.

All this is good, no great, but it is only a part of the brilliance, the rest lies in her company, a cast of multi-talented young men who can sing, dance and deliver a finely tuned, in every sense, gag. The comany produce an extraordinary sound in the ensemble numbers, their ballet sequences are elegant and precise and all is done with total conviction.

Sailing above all this are the principals and there’s not a weak player on that stage, too many to mention all but if you see this, and you really should, then look out for the following. Richard Russell Edwards’ imperious Fairy Queen is exceptional, Christopher Finn’s Iolanthe, sung beautifully and with great charm.  Alistair Hill’s Lord Chancellor deals the patter songs with such accuracy that not a word is lost and Duncan Sandilands’ Private Willis is full and rich voiced and very very funny indeed.

But the high point of the evening must be the finely sung role of Phyllis from Joe Henry, simply delightful and pure, but at moments not without wit and an hilarious TOWIE touch!

G&S deserves this level of both attention and excellence and this company certainly get that right!

I’m not given enough stars to reflect the number of stars on the stage in this joyous triumph of theatre. (So five each boys, and Sasha and her team too!)

19 June

Theatre Royal Brighton

Andrew Kay

Rating: ★★★★★




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