This riotous and highly entertaining production is exactly what the West End needed at this time.
It would be fair to say that what we all need is a laugh and sheer entertainment – this production delivers this from start to finish thanks to hilarious and lively performances, a great comedic story and music and choreography that really shines.
Featuring music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W.S.Gilbert, the story follows Frederic who having completed his 21st year apprenticeship to the Pirates of Penzance is leaving piracy behind him to become a respectable gentleman. Along the way he meets a company of young women and immediately falls in love with Mabel and soon all sorts of chaos ensues.
Directed by Saha Regan, this show has been around since 2009 and has been wowing and making audiences laugh ever since – and as this particular revival proves it deserves to continue to do so for many years to come.
Filled with such a great energy and enthusiasm, it would be very hard for anyone not to be swept into the sheer joy this production possesses – particularly when it so relies on the performances to really enhance the story telling and embraces the humour as seen through numbers such as ‘Climbing Over Rocky Mountain’ that is utterly delightful to watch.
A lot of credit should also go to the sheer physicalness of the production, with Lizzi Gee’s choreography proving to be particularly inventive and energetic in helping to tell the story. I particularly loved the sequence in which Ruth asks to ride the horse of Major-General Stanley and the choreography during ‘Here’s a First Rate Opportunity’ that shows the playfulness of the production at its best.
Everything about the production is minimalistic – the costumes and set design for example – but this only adds to the charm and fun of the production as well as effectiveness. For example, Robyn Wilson-Owen’s corset and plain hoop skirt for the females actually added to the comedy delightfully well.
This is a production that really relies on the performances – and all are brilliantly bold, confident and hilarious. But in particular, I adored Leon Craig as Ruth, who consistently made the most of the comedy and had a lovely voice during ‘When Fred’ric was a little lad’ and Alan Richardson as Mabel who was quite literally pitch perfect in all senses of the word.
This is a delightfully energetic, comedic production that was just the right tonic through the tough times theatre and the wider world is going through at the moment. To be in a West End theatre with an audience enthusiastically clapping was just an additional bonus.
By Emma Clarendon
The Pirates of Penzance is available to stream via Stream.Theatre until the 3rd January 2021.