Express G&S ★★★★ The Pleasance Theatre | June 23 - July 2, 2021


Express G&S will delight all but the most curmudgeonly of Savoy Opera buffs. Containing excerpts from the entire Gilbert and Sullivan canon either musically or as dozens of quotations wittily interwoven into the script, it is extremely well constructed and performed with appropriate aplomb. Resembling other short Gilbertian parlour pieces such as The Zoo, this seventy-five minute bonne bouche fits very well into The Pleasance Theatre's beautifully reconfigured auditorium. The show has as its basic premise an Agatha Christie-style mystery set in a train's restaurant car and concerns the mysterious destruction of the "D'oyly Carte" – aka a tea trolley. (Further elaboration would not really make things any clearer!) Three exceedingly adept performers keep things bubbling along. Most of the songs have clever new lyrics while occasional numbers are played more or less straight. Catrine Kirkman and Philip Lee have exactly the right style for this material, while Matthew Kellett's superb rendition of The Nightmare Song from Iolanthe deserves its ovation. John Savournin's script and direction, David Eaton's lyrics and accompaniment together with Jessie Huckin's design all coalesce to create a delightful take on some classics and, even if occasional jokes cause a groan, everything is firmly tongue in cheek as well as respectful of the original works. How much you enjoy this show depends on whether you feel ''joy unalloyed when the night wind howls." If you do, then this topsy-turvy little show will transport you to a "Utopia" of unlimited, and only very slightly modified, rapture.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Bill Knight.

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