The Pirates of Penzance, Palace Theatre - ★★★★★ - December 12 & 13, 2020


Sasha Regan's All-male The Pirates of Penzance is exactly what theatre needs right now. Immaculate performances within a joyful production make this revival of a 140-year-old operetta come up fresh as paint. Only curmudgeonly Gilbert & Sullivan traditionalists could baulk at the use of young men, singing as countertenors, in the female roles; this is not a camp skit but an honest, truthful production which adds just a few knowing winks to the situations. Conceived for much smaller venues, the show expands perfectly onto the cavernous Palace Theatre's stage. Time after time, jaws drop at the beautiful stage pictures created by director Sasha Regan and choreographer Lizzi Gee, including a brilliant pirate ship. The cast are spot on and laughs, which are never cheap or crude, bubble along as the business unfolds naturally from the plot. Alan Richardson's coloratura countertenor as Mabel is quite amazing whilst Tom Senior's Frederic sets more than just Mabel's heart aflutter; their meltingly beautiful duet is certainly a highlight. The Pirate King (Oliver Savile) and Sergeant of Police (Marc Akinfolarin) lead their troops of pirates and policemen, all of whom are immaculately drilled, with gleeful aplomb. The four leading 'girls' act and sing delightfully. This production finds the heart of the work and gives it to us in full measure, musically as well as visually. All Hail to a beautifully nuanced revival which deserves to be in the West End for a much longer run – it is a triumphant joy to behold.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Danny Kaan.

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