Delightfully serene, incredibly funny and as fruity as it should be, Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic work Iolanthe meets Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group’s fantastic production team and talented cast to create one of the year’s must-see performances.
Iolanthe is a comic opera with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W.S. Gilbert. In this satirical fantasy, Phyllis (Issy Crutchley) and Strephon (Max Prentice) wish to marry, but as Phyllis is a ward of the court, she requires the Lord Chancellor’s permission. The Lord Chancellor (Nathaniel Forsyth), however, wants her for himself.
It is hard to believe that this is Izzy Parriss’ first time directing; everything about the play is carefully planned and nothing about it is ‘too much’. The décor and the lighting complement the play, transporting the audience to the magical realm of play. Meanwhile, Sam McLellan and the orchestra are gifted to the point of making the audience admit that magic really exists.
From the moment she sets foot on the stage, it is clear that Niamh Higgins as Queen of the Fairies was made for the role with her soothing tone of her voice and motherly attitude. She is charming and funny, especially in her scenes with her husband-to-be Private Willis (Patrick Hall). Another praiseworthy pairing is Phyllis (Issy Crutchley) and Strephon (Max Prentice). With Crutchley’s exceptional voice and Prentice’s adorable expressions, they are simply the cutest couple.
Iolanthe (Georgie Carey) amazes the audience with her beautiful voice embodiment of the ‘fairy attitude’. The serenity of her innocent expressions invites the audience to question whether she is a fairy off the stage as well as on. Meanwhile, Nathaniel Forsyth as The Lord Chancellor, despite playing the most unlovable character in the play, takes one’s breath away with his skilful acting and singing in the nightmare scene.
Ewan Bruce as the Earl of Tolloller and Gordon Horne as the Earl of Mountararat are two of the most talented actors on stage. Every action made and every word uttered is wittily amusing. As they cry out “we are plain!” on stage, one wants to shout back “There is nothing plain about you!”
With its topical undertones of class rivalry, sexism and political unrest, Iolanthe is not only an entertaining opera but it is also a sharp social satire. With EUSOG’s skilfulness at putting it on stage, it becomes one of the most magnificent productions of the year.
Teviot Debating Hall
Image: Erica Belton