The National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company brought a radical re-working of two of the duos earliest pieces to Norwich on September 21 – well, radical if you count a lesbian couple, a Tommy Cooper homage, and a Love Island joke thrown into the libretto as radical.
And for this very English, very gentle form of light opera that is about the maximum deviation you’re likely to get. This is about tradition, featherlight satire, and some fine music.
The books are not Gilbert & Sullivan’s greatest: a trial for a broken engagement contract where the judge ends up marrying the plaintiff; and secretly treating a whole village with a love potion as a social experiment. The songs are not particularly memorable, the design pedestrian, the choreography functional.
But it remains a rare treat to have a live 24-piece orchestra, and stories that while silly are basically wholesome, family-friendly, and an easy distraction from modern chaos.
Norwich panto favourite Richard Gauntlett sparkles so much he feels like he might be in another show, and there are solid lead performances by Nicholas Sales, Ellen Angharad Williams, and Matthew Kellett.
If you’re looking for sensorial assault, beg a return for virtual reality food fest Gastronomic in Stage Two next door. If you want a reassuringly polite handshake from an England past, try this.