Review: HMS Pinafore @ The Rosemary Branch Theatre

By caroliner Last edited 102 months ago
Review: HMS Pinafore @ The Rosemary Branch Theatre

Dick Deadeye & Captain Corcoran
Charles Court Opera has made a welcome return to the tiny Victorian music hall at the Rosemary Branch theatre, this time bringing us the jaunty jigs and class commentary of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore. Staged with great skill in a tiny rectangular room, with seats for around 60 and a piano that takes up half the stage, this is operetta in a shoebox- and it’s absolutely fantastic.

A timeless social satire, HMS Pinafore revolves around Captain Corcoran's aspiration to marry his daughter to the First Lord of the Admiralty (on our visit played by a piquantly camp Ian Besley) and the complications caused by her love for the humble sailor Ralph Rackstraw. It contains some of G&S’s best known songs and Charles Court’s performers do ample justice to a jaunty yet sardonic score that parodies both operatic and patriotic tunes. The music is provided on piano by the excellent Eaton Young Piano Duo and it’s interesting to see how well the one instrument works in place of an orchestra.

With just an artfully draped canvas, a few pieces of nautical furniture and some clever lighting Charles Court Opera have created a convincing atmosphere that is enhanced by the unassuming space they inhabit. The acting is well judged all round and they succeed in extracting the work’s full comic potential without overworking the script or relying on contemporary references. Particularly enjoyable performances come from director John Savournin (Captain Corcoran) and Rosie Strobe, whose vibrant portrayal of Little Buttercup was enhanced by her spectacularly expressive eyebrows.

Tickets to this small yet mighty production are £15, or £12 for matinees, and performances go on til 19th September. It’s a joy to see small opera companies such as CCO thriving and we'd definitely recommend their Pinafore, particularly as it's hard to believe that you'll ever have a chance to see a more interesting rendition of this classic in such a challenging space.

What, never?

Well, hardly ever...

Tickets are available from the Rosemary Branch Theatre website, or at the theatre, 2 Shepperton Road, London N1 3DT. Performances are at 7.30pm on 8th, 9th, 11th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th & 19th September, and 3.30pm on 12th & 18th September.

Last Updated 08 September 2010