Theatre review: The Pirates of Penzance at the King’s Head Theatre

12:01 20 September 2012

John Savournin as The Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance

John Savournin as The Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance

Bill Knight

Brilliant comic timing and a strong cast breathe new life into Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic opera at the King’s Head Theatre

»Many opera-fans eschew fringe performances in favour of the world-renowned singers and incredible orchestras of grander opera houses. But Charles Court Opera’s thrilling revival of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic masterpiece The Pirates of Penzance is not to be missed, particularly for fans of the genre.

The cast of nine are universally fantastic and all sing well. Ian Jervis as General Stanley delivers the showpiece Modern Major-General song with predictable aplomb while the constant gurning of Matthew Kellet’s pirate lieutenant cranks the silliness up a notch or two.

But it’s the trio of Alexandra Hutton, Nichola Jolly and Charlotte Baptie as General Stanley’s daughters who steal the show. As a group they all have a wonderful sense of comic timing. The scene where two of the daughters eavesdrop on their sister and pretend to talk about the weather is brilliantly executed and very funny.

Being close enough to see the facial expressions of all of the performers really adds to the production and delivers a level of intimacy you simply cannot get atlarger venues. The cast are self-evidently enjoying themselves and there’s no doubt that some of them are destined for greater things in the future.

Running at a shade under two hours including an interval, it’s a perfect antidote to post-Olympic blues. Daft, delightful and utterly brilliant, it’s the most fun I’ve had at the theatre all year. Showing at the King’s Head until 29th September this wonderful production deserves to sell out every night.

David Ladds

* The Pirates of Penzance plays the King’s Head Theatre until September 29. Box office 020 7478 0160.

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