H.M.S. Pinafore Berthed In Shrewsbury

Sasha Regan’s All Male

H.M.S. Pinafore

Theatre Severn

Monday 18th – Wednesday 20th July (Wednesday Matinee 14.10)

 

There are allegedly only three jokes ever written in the world and every other joke is a derivative thereof, well that might or might not be true but as this performance proves the best comedy is timeless. Offering up classic Victorian humour this superb production of HMS Pinafore is as funny now as it was when it was written and tonight’s audience proved that as they laughed and roared at English humour at its best.

The convention of using an all-male cast (as all theatre did in the early days) initially produced questions in one’s mind. Was Sasha Regan making a statement about gender or sexuality? Did she have an axe to grind and wanted to do this through this medium? What was she trying to say? It becomes clear very quickly that none of those questions are relevant at all to this piece.

No, this is just a show where men play all the roles. It is hilariously funny for that but be not fooled. It isn’t the crossdressing, gender bending performances that get the laugh, it is in fact, the genius of the composers and the brilliant interpretation by Sasha Regan  that captures the humour so well..

 After getting used to men playing women and initially laughing at the absurdity of what you are seeing the boys did become girls and the work in their characterisation was phenomenal. It would be hard to believe if one heard how they all sound together, that there are no women on the stage. Truly stunning piece of choral work.

The design was deceptively simplistic comprising some boxes, some bunks and a piece of rope. The setting was the belly of a WW2 Battleship just to bring a more contemporary feel. Although it was appealing and one saw the belly of the little ship drawn in one’s own mind, the question that presents itself is about the change to a more contemporary setting. This is a show that relies on the text and the score, so although the transition in time was perfectly acceptable, maybe it wasn’t overly necessary? Still it was done and the show didn’t suffer for it.

The choreography is an absolute treat one can only imagine the work that choreographer Lizzi Gee faced. Not only creating the movement and the steps, but also finding the comedy and interpreting that into movement. She found it superbly, not only could this cast sing like a thousand voices but they could move too. This was a truly well-polished piece of gold.

The costumes were superb. One is always aware that behind the scenes there is an army of people keeping the show on the road. A special award goes out for the costume crew. The show was dressed lavishly and so in keeping with the themes.

There is a lot of pathos in the work of G&S and it is there where the comedy can lie. Both comedy and tragedy are present in spades and that defines this as a great piece of theatre.

It all seemed so relevant too what with our political landscape. I believe there was a sense of pride as the cast sang, “He is an Englishman,” it brought about a thought process and it was nice to feel a little patriotic.

And why not? England has given so much to the world of popular culture. This is definitely one of those gems. So if when leaving the theatre you find yourself humming, “he is an Englishman,” no wonder we have so much to be proud of.

Well done HMS this is a great show, beautifully produced, directed, designed, orchestrated and wonderfully performed. It certainly instilled in me a sense of pride. This is an English show and the world adores it. And so dare I proffer; do the people of Shrewsbury

 

This is a four star review

Owen J. Lewis

Section:

Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

Read More from Owen Lewis