Patience ★★★★ Wilton's Music Hall | August 24 - 26, 2022

While Gilbert and Sullivan's sixth collaboration satirises the aesthetic movement and the pretentiousness of artists in general, it also attacks the absurdity of mindless admiration and ridiculous notions of unselfish love. The comic opera centres around two rival poets whose work is ostensibly quite different: Bunthorne's verse is vacuous and obscure while Grosvenor's is simple and soppy. However, both poets are shams. They are driven by egos that are gargantuan and a narcissism that is hilarious. As Grosvenor, Matthew Siveter does an absolutely splendid job, and John Savournin, who was substituting for Matthew Kellett on the night we saw the show, is a wonderfully preposterous Bunthorne. Their devoted followers who are caught up in the artists' web of vanity are played to perfection by Meriel Cunningham and Jennie Jacobs with Catrine Kirkman as a superb, Lady Jane. In contrast to the folly of self-absorption, which is shared by the artists and their devotees, is the delusion of Patience (Catriona Hewitson) who has adopted the erroneous notion that love is based on complete selflessness. Hewitson has a captivating voice and she makes the most of it. Indeed, as always, all of the Charles Court Opera crew bring formidable vocal skills to their task. The usual critique of this piece is that it is too time specific for contemporary audiences to appreciate the satire. Charles Court Opera do a fine job of updating the lyrics but, for us, something was lost in not establishing a more specific target for Gilbert's sharp skewering of artistic affectation and the perils of fandom. Such quibbles aside however, this production should be obligatory viewing for all fans who celebrate the artistic genius of Gilbert and Sullivan!

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.

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