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 Woman In Mind by Masque Theatre at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

I like Alan Ayckbourn, I may only have seen a few of his vast array of plays previously, but all have been a delight, often crazy yes, but constantly funny, and especially in the second act spiralling often into just on the very edge of believable nonsense. With Woman In Mind, acknowledged by many as one of his finest works, my own personal jury is very much out on whether I liked it or not.
What was very good, mostly, however, were the performances, most especially the two that we are introduced to at the very beginning. The prostrate Susan (Nicola Osborne), with sinisterly lurking rake alongside her, and the bag struggling doctor, Bill (John Myhill).
Nicola Osborne has the unenviable task in this play of never leaving the stage, a feat in itself. Add to this the constant weaving of the character's world (more on this later), and you have a role featuring some significant challenge, one that Osborne ably surmounts. I once described Osborne as a "safe pair of hands" in …

Press launch of Sting's The Last Ship at Errol Flynn Filmhouse, Northampton

On Friday 16th February 2018, I attended the official press launch of The Last Ship. In attendance were the writer of the show, Sting, and cast members for the 2018 UK tour Richard Fleeshman, Charlie Hardwick and Joe McGann, with musical support from Rob Mathes.

During the event, opened entertainingly by producer Karl Sydow, Sting and the cast members performed seven of the songs from the show: The Last Ship (Sting), Dead Man's Boots (Sting and Fleeshman), Sail Away (Hardwick), The Night the Pugilist Learned to Dance (Fleeshman), What Say You Meg? (Fleeshman) and What Have You Got? (Sting and cast).

Each of these songs showed us a great background to the evocative tale that The Last Ship tells, of a community under attack as its crucial shipbuilding industry begins to fail. The performers and Sting himself delivered the songs with huge passion, despite, as Sting himself commented, the earnestness of the hour, with the event beginning at 10 am.

The Last Ship was initially inspired …

Review of Accused, performed by University Of Northampton BA Actors at St Peter's Church, Northampton

Going into seeing Accused, the first devised show by this years third year BA Actors graduates, I have to confess I shamefully knew nothing of its influence, Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol. However, it wasn't a great leap for me to identify that the piece gorgeously sung by the whole cast at the end of this really imaginative piece, was indeed part of the Ballad itself.

The Ballad it turns out, written by Wilde during exile following release from Reading tells of the execution of a man called Wooldridge, a man hung for cutting the throat of his wife. In Accused, we have another prisoner, destined to hang, but cleverly for what remains to its end, an unknown crime. It's bad, pretty bad, clear from the reaction of both prisoner and guards alike, and the Accused's life is generally in danger a great deal, long before the Executioner (played extremely nicely by Georgi McKie) comes to do her bidding.

Playing the Accused, and really rather brilliantly, is Alexande…