Review: The Pirates of Penzance

-Helen Russell

First, a disclaimer: I have a massive soft spot for all things “G and S”, but don’t let that lead you to believe I give my five stars lightly, this latest offering from Scottish Opera really is something special.

The Pirates of Penzance opens with Frederic bidding farewell to the Pirate crew he has been bound to until today, his 21st birthday. Frederic and his nurse since childhood, Ruth (the only woman he has ever laid eyes upon) set off on their new life on land. However when Frederic meets a band of young maidens, including the lovely Mabel, he falls madly in love and realises Ruth is not as much of a beauty as she may have lead him to believe. All is not happy ever after just yet however, as Ruth comes across an unfortunate paradox causing Fredrick to question his right to leave the pirate life behind.

Pirates is full of fun, farce and fast-paced word play and the greatly talented cast played along with the ridiculous in a manner straight-faced enough to keep the humour alive whilst always letting us know they were in on the joke themselves. Ellie Laugharne as Mabel in particular does a brilliant job playing-it-straight amongst the madness.

It’s always nice to see a company really enjoying a performance, and from the first rowdy pirate cheer you can tell the highly trained members of this professional ensemble were having a great time getting their lungs around Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera. Special credit must be given to Graeme Broadbent, whose Yorkshire rendition of “A Policeman’s Lot” was the comic performance of the night.

With countless memorable songs such as “I am the Pirate King”, “Poor Wandering One” and of course the Major General’s Song you could feel the foot-tapping through the stalls, but this wasn’t an occasion for the G and S fanatic alone, and hopefully many people will have found a new appreciation for opera through this energetic and accessible performance.

-Helen saw the Pirates of Penzance at The Festival Theatre, Edinburgh. The show ran from 28th May-1st June 2013

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