If you are looking for a feel-good show, packed with laughs from start to finish and a score of toe-tapping tunes, The Pirates of Penzance at the Bristol Hippodrome this week will fly your flag.
Don’t be put off by classical labels, this farcical comic operetta with its musical parodies by good old Gilbert and Sullivan is practically pantomime. For purists, the flawless performance by the Scottish Opera and D’Oyly Carte brings this show to life with gusto. It keeps the audience entertained the entire way through without losing the beauty and the skill required of the music.
The scenery during the overture sets the standard with its cinematic effect. We follow the flight of a seagull soaring over the ocean towards Penzance. A pirate ship below sails into view and quickly, we are whisked into the chaos and camaraderie of the pirates at sea.
It’s Frederic’s 21st Birthday. The pirates are celebrating both occasion and the passing of his indentures. Frederic reveals that becoming a pirate was a mistake and bids them farewell. After this, the plot surges down a fantastical story of pirate meets girl. Pirate has to leave girl. Pirate gets back with girl. This is intertwined with twists, drama and a Cornish police force that are more used to sipping tea and less keen on fighting pirates.
The entire cast shines radiantly, especially the bookish Mabel and the wonderful ensemble of her siblings.
Dashing Nicholas Sharratt as the angsty loved-up Frederic plays the part perfectly. As does soft hearted Pirate King Steven Page.
Richard Suart glides through the pacey Major General’s Song with the required bumbling ease.
It’s a shame to single any one person out, but Graeme Broadbent as the Sergeant of Police had the audience in stitches. Broadbent is a natural showman, playing a cross between Officer Crabtree, Basil Fawlty, with perhaps a smattering of Blakey from On the Buses.
This production not only gives every glitzy West End musical a run for its money, it beats most of them hands down.
Running from Tuesday 18 – Saturday 22 June 2013
Tickets: £15.00 – £47.50