Skip to main content

Review of Patience performed at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton by the Northampton Gilbert & Sullivan Group

There is the distinct possibility that Gilbert & Sullivan has the potential to become one of my more curious favourites. I have never been an immense fan of opera itself, although never having seen one live, the potential is perhaps still there. However G&S appears to be in a strange world between opera and musical that strangely appeals. It is perhaps the shear silliness of the stories they tell, and now having seen three, the perhaps familiarity of what you are going to get, that makes them interesting.

It was abundantly clear on the evening I saw it, that I generally didn't fit the average viewer of G&S age wise, with it feeling more than ever like a pensioners night out, with just a small scattering of us under forties (of which I have the pleasure of writing for just two more months). It is a shame though because I am sure the younger populace would have enjoyed this little show a fair bit as well.

Patience or Bunthorne's Bride tells the story of the rivalry between two poets, Reginald Bunthorne (Paul Darnell) and Archibald Grosvenor (Simon Crask) and their adoration seemingly from all females. Their love and delight of these two poets leads the ladies to follow them everywhere they go, pied piper like, seeking to be chosen as their suitor. It is really rather silly, but this is pretty much where G&S lies. This is not highbrow entertainment, just frankly ridiculous fun.

The two male leads have tremendous fun in their roles, delivering the comic persona's well. Darnell in particular (so brilliant in Yeomen of the Guard last year), manages to force his way out of the ridiculous wig and facial hair to create an even more ridiculous character. Crask also, a more flowery poet, minces his way around the stage, suffering stress from being persuade at every moment by the ladies. Like I say, this is all crazy, what man would ever be like this pair?

Their affections though lie beyond all these willowy ladies, as they truly want Patience (Rachel Bedford), a dairy maid with no knowledge of love and a stuffed cow for company. I have seen Bedford a couple of times and she always delivers bold and brassy characterisation coupled with impressively powerful singing. Here she is in as confident and on form as ever, playing deliberately and devilishly with the men's affections.

From the other performers, I particularly liked Mike Gray as Colonel Calverley, delivering the typical quick paced song of "If you want a receipt for that popular mystery" with relish and impressive style. Rosie Watts as The Lady Saphir was particularly captivating in performance and delivered her singing numbers gorgeously. Finally Susan Drake had tremendous fun as Lady Jane, with her "Sad is a woman's lot" a huge highlight from the show which was extremely and rightfully well received from the audience.

Director and set designer Leon Berger keeps everything very traditional making this pure original Gilbert & Sullivan. The scene transitions are quick and smooth, while the set, while plain provides a functional backdrop for the performers to create the show around.

Patience is of the three G&S shows I have seen, my least favourite, however that is more that the others are so strong and with more familiar songs. What Patience still has in spades in this production, is the obvious and dedication of the full company. If you are a G&S fan, this provides a full evening of entertainment you shouldn't really miss. If you have never seen one, perhaps like I did two years ago, head to find out if it might be for you. It could unexpectedly become your thing as well.


Performance reviewed: Tuesday 21st March, 2017 at the Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton.

Patience runs until Saturday 25th March, 2017 at the Royal & Derngate, details here: https://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whats-on/patience/

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Bombshell by Contact Light Theatre at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

Warning: This review contains spoilers

Whether it is an overwhelming success or mostly a failure, I have over the years grown a huge affinity for fresh new work on the stage. The need to regurgitate and rework old pieces continuously may well get easy bums on seats, but at the end of the night, it has no doubt pleased a few but it hasn't really made any future impact on theatre of the future. Presenting a new play and new work, however, who knows what it might have seeded in the years to come?

Therefore as I watched Bombshell, not only a new play, but also the first offering from a new theatre company, I was thrilled that first of all, it leaned much more towards the success line, and also that over half filling the theatre, it had also put quite a few of the bums on seats as well.

Curiously I have recently read Festen by David Eldridge, and while Bombshell goes much its own way, I felt early on, I (and perhaps others in the audience), felt I had a distinct advantage over some of …

Review of Balm in Gilead, University of Northampton BA Acting (Creative Acting) at Maidwell Hall, Northampton

Watching the production of Balm in Gilead sees my entering the fifth year of following the University of Northampton acting students, and what theatre they have provided over the years!

Balm in Gilead is no less intriguing than anything that has gone before, written in 1965 by Lanford Wilson, you might think this would be a dated item for the young students to be performing, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Set in a cafe (transposed to England from its original American setting), it sees the lives of addicts, homeless and sex workers converge into a mixture of good but mostly bad moments.
My first time in the Maidwell Hall saw an encounter with a brilliantly realised community full of the world of the cafe and the surrounding homes, cardboard boxes and dishevelled beds. As we enter the characters of this world begin living alongside us, addressing us, begging us for money, pushing shopping trolleys around offering off the cuff exchanges with the audience and confronti…

Review of This Evil Thing at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

This Evil Thing written and performed by Michael Mears isn't my first encounter with a play about conscientious objectors, however, it absolutely is the most detailed in its explanation of the subject. A clear and absolute labour of love from Michael Mears, and an obviously very personal thing for him, it leaves the audience pretty much in its grip for the whole of its 80 minutes.

Almost uniquely, our performer Michael Mears is in the theatre stalls upon entry, observing the arrival of the audience and indeed exchanging conversation at times. It's fascinating to see a performer not only there, but seemingly so relaxed pre-show and as he bounds on the stage at show start, this little nugget proves intriguing in itself.

Michael Mears is a captivating presence on stage, as previously experienced on the same stage in A Tale Of Two Cities and The Herbal Bed, therefore it comes as little surprise that he has a confident ability to make a one-man show work, and so well. With the use …