Set in the Japanese town of Titipu, the audience were promised a voyage full of laughter from the very beginning of Charles Court Opera’s production of The Mikado at The King’s Head Theatre. The performers captured Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic intentions superbly, both in their individual roles and the ongoing humorous interactions between them.

The performance opens with wandering minstrel Nanki-poo (Kevin Kyle), pining for the woman he loves, Yum-Yum (Catherine Kirkman). Kyle offers a convincing interpretation of the role, which is set off brilliantly by Pish-tush (Ian Beadle) and Pooh-Bah (John Savournin), whose performance as Lord of nearly absolutely everything proceeds to steal the show!

…ravaged looks and desirous, glaring eyes make…

The vivacity in all the characters’ facial expressions feeds the comedy. Yum-Yum’s first entrance is certainly an unforgettable one – she bursts onto the stage with two other maidens in an enthusiastic rendition of Three Little Maids From School Are We. Their lively facial expressions and incessant giggling give a vigour to the performance which enraptures the audience. On the other end of the scale, Katisha’s (Susan Moore) ravaged looks and desirous, glaring eyes also make laughter inescapable. Her continually fiery character then matches, unexpectedly, with Ko-Ko (Philip Lee) who painfully has to seek the love for one he actually finds quite repulsive as he perseveringly laments her.

The excellent authority of the title character, The Mikado (Simon Masterton-Smith) creates a further opportunity for on stage humour as the bustling characters sing a unique laughter-inducing account of the pretend execution of his son, Nanki-poo. This is perhaps where Savournin excels the most in his role, his exaggerated accent, comic faces and brilliantly timed entrances offer maximum comic appeal. 

…an inspiring cast and a most satisfying comic character.

The effortless transitions into song and the carefully handled shifts from lively comedy to passionate romance assert the versatility of the performers. The stage is small, but the cast seem able to make it any size they want – from host to an intimate conversation to arena for a vibrant, public event. This effect is undoubtedly also achieved thanks to the soundtrack, played by David Eaton and James Young, who can offer both a discreet tinkling and an enthusiastic statement from a piano they share to the side of the stage. 

This performance of The Mikado is difficult to fault, offering an inspiring cast and a most satisfying comic character. An excellent production at a venue which continues to impress.

The Pirates of Penzance will open at The King’s Head Theatre later in the year.

5 Stars


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