Gilbert and Sullivan Abridged.

Gilbert and Sullivan Abridged
Theatre Severn
27/03/13

As a fan of minimalistic theatre and portable theatre shows, one would imagine the sight of just three singers with a screen and wicker basket would please me immensely. However in this case the three plucky vocalists failed to fill cavernous space on the main stage in Theatre Severn and would have impacted far greater on their not so large audience, were they to have used the Walker Theatre. One feels a little something of the show was swallowed up as the three cast members used the space as creatively as they could but still looked lost.

That said, Gilbert and Sullivan fans were in for a treat as Jane Webster, David Osmond and Eric Carte blasted their way through a montage of all the G&S operettas filling in the narratives as they went along. 

They made the unusual choice of presenting themselves as a down at heel amateur operatic society. I say unusual choice because the whole performance was then played as though that were really the case. The danger being of course, if you missed the introduction, you could be forgiven for believing that that was indeed their status and you had just spent eighteen pounds on a ticket for an amateur performance.

Although Ms. Webster’s voice was undoubtedly classically trained there were a couple of flat notes as the two men performed their duets. One of the performers even treated us to a jumble of mixed up and forgotten words as he opened the classic song from HMS Pinafore.

This was a quirky show and an admirable précis of the work of G&S. It is easy to forget just how witty they were and how they would poke their innocuous fun at Victorian conventionality and delight the adoring audiences. The extent of their legacy is immeasurable and so many of the tunes you know in your head but not sure from where may well have been penned by the argumentative pair. Their work appears in adverts on football terraces and other equally unlikely places.

Overall, in summary I would say this was a good idea as a show but the danger with vignette productions is that one may feel a little disappointed when it becomes obvious that they may not be featuring your own particular favourite G&S song.

However there can be no better way of giving the audience a taste of this music and whetting the appetites of new listeners, for more of the same. It was fun, light and in places very funny. Not rolling in the aisles funny but funny in an almost quiet Victorian way.

This is a three star review.
Owen Lewis

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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.

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