Ruddigore ★★★ Wilton's Music Hall | March 14 - 25, 2023

Gilbert and Sullivan are renowned for their inspired silliness, but sometimes the inspiration flagged a little. There's a reason that Ruddigore is not numbered among the great products of their collaboration. This plot goes beyond Gilbert's usually engaging nonsense into the inane. The story of a baronet who is cursed to perform an evil deed every day seems rather muddled into the love story where two young men vie for the hand of a young woman who uses an etiquette book as her guide to life. And, Gilbert's satire of wild superstitions, aristocratic birthright and the rules of social convention doesn't really resonate in a modern context. The current production tries to create some relevance with good jabs at various contemporary follies, but while it does achieve some palpable hits, it doesn't quite make it overall. For us a highlight was the duet "I know a youth" by Rose (Madeline Robinson) and Robin (Joe Winter). Robinson's voice is extraordinary, and her acting hit just the right comic note, as did Winter's. Unlike a couple of the performers, they didn't fall into the trap of camping up their performances. For the show to work, the actors can't be in on the joke. Another standout number was one of Gilbert's notoriously difficult patter songs "My eyes are fully open" sung by Sir Ruthven (Joe Winter), Margaret (Charli Baptie) and Despard (Peter Benedict). The trio bring it off quite beautifully. Lovers of Gilbert and Sullivan will probably enjoy this romp through the ghostly halls of their characteristic whimsy; for the uninitiated, it might not be the most approachable piece for discovering the delights of the two great virtuosos of the Victorian musical.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Mark Senior.

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