Technically, of course, an older woman courting and hoping to entice a young man into marriage sounds like a classic case of grooming.
And as for an older man betrothed to a young lady who we learn is his ‘ward of court’ has all the hallmarks of an Old Bailey court case and not a local theatre on a Monday evening.
But we are, of course, embarked on a journey of discovery unlocking the riches of the much-revered partnership of W S Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan.
And having seen, and been enthralled on a previous occasion, by Sasha Regan’s interpretation of G&S operettas, I was glued to my seat to see how she dealt with the duo’s ever popular The Mikado.
It was a joyous and sublime occasion, and you soon forget this is an all-male performance performed at pace, with style and panache and remarkably loyal to Gilbert and Sullivan’s collaborative original offering.
RuPaul, however, this is not – the costumes look to have been gathered from an assorted alleyway bin with the left overs from a jumble sale.
Part of Sasha’s boldness and inventiveness and probably reflects what she might have conceived if a war time variety show were staging something similar with props and effects close to hand.
The fun, delight and mischief is in trying to keep pace with the costume changes and the hilarity characters must evoke to transition backwards and forwards.
Ostensibly G&S set The Mikado in Japan and the fictional, absurd, scatterbrained town of Titipu and if your memory is like mine of D’Oyle Carte’s breathtaking costumes and glamour you might be entitled to slight momentary disappointment.
But underpinning the story, the plot, the nonsensical multiple charades, is a modern (there are others of course) interpretation of a society caught up in spellbindingly absurd laws, traditions and rituals that come together to ultimately produce sanity and sensibility to otherwise inscrutably challenging and seemingly intractable dilemmas.
First and foremost, and therefore never to be forgotten, of course is that The Mikado is a musical.
And with wickedly funny, blessedly super rehearsed, tuneful, and magical performers.
Like many, one of my favourite songs from The Mikado is ‘I’ve Got a Little List’ and provides Koko with the opportunity to draw up a list of those he would happily execute instead of himself.
Aficionados will know that the list of possibilities include “society offenders who never will be missed” and Sasha, in true G&S tradition, has a compilation that will have tears of laughter streaming from your eyes.
And that, assuredly, sums up what every audience for G&S expects and this Mikado has ribaldry and mischief throughout – and is a delight.
- The Mikado is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, with matinees on Thursday and Saturday.
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