This spring EUSOG’s annual Gilbert and Sullivan feast was the acclaimed The Gondoliers. The story follows the search for the rightful King of the fictional kingdom of Barataria who was promised, at birth, to the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Plaza Toro. Having originally been suspected to be one of two humble gondoliers who were mixed up at birth, all woes are resolved when the King is in fact the man Casilda loved all along.
Oxford in the 1950s formed the backdrop of the show, which had been adapted to include a number of topical references. Of these, the most notable was Don Alhambra Del Bolero’s (Douglas Clark) mention of a “strict horse meat diet”. This added wit to the classic slapstick comedy of Savoy Opera that is a traditional part of its appeal.
Light hearted and energetic, this performance seemed to be a model for the genre. The team achieved more than just an entertaining show; the abundance of positive energy on stage was such that it took a lot of self-restraint for the audience to remain seated and not join in.
Dominic Lewis’s choreography was flawless and worked to continuously unify the cast on stage, lending a great sense of camaraderie. Alongside his choreographical work, Lewis played the part of the Duke of Plaza Toro and together with his Duchess (Lucy Gibbons) formed an unforgettable double act. The pair were permanently flouncing around the stage, articulating their differences with sassy attitude.
The orchestra transported us from the modest Pleasance Theatre to the grandeur of the Royal Albert Hall, and triggered an underlying feeling of regret in the audience at having given up that instrument they were once forced to play in their youth. The performance was truly so powerful and the mood so infectious that the audience virtually skipped out of the building, having been hypnotised by the pure and refined voices heard throughout the performance.
Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic