To mark 100 years since W.S. Gilbert’s death, the consistently excellent Charles Court Opera are staging a ‘mini-festival’ of Gilbert and Sullivan works at the Rosemary Branch theatre in Islington. Running from the 5th-23rd October, the festival will intersperse performances of the Mikado with a double bill of little-performed The Zoo and Trial By Jury.
Featuring memorable characters and songs that have passed into the public consciousness, the Mikado is a Japan-based satire of 19th Century British politics and one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most popular works. Charles Court Opera are known for taking on the duo's classics with panache (see last year's Pinafore) and their re-worked Mikado, done by an ensemble of just nine and accompanied by music from the Eaton-Young Piano Duo, is certainly an enticing prospect.
The other performances will offer a rare chance to see the much less well known The Zoo, a one-act comedy set in London Zoo (by Sullivan and Stephenson), alongside Trial By Jury. The latter, another one-act comic opera, is the first surviving work by Gilbert and Sullivan and - reflecting how much has changed since Gilbert has died - will be staged in a modern dress, chat show format that promises to involve the audience in its parodic judicial proceedings.
The festival, the venue and the troupe's size may all be diminuitive, but past performances have shown that the calibre will be anything but. The small capacity of the theatre does, however, mean that tickets sell fast and you can secure tickets in advance by visiting the website.
The Mikado runs from 5th - 23rd October and the Zoo/Trial By Jury runs from 6th - 16th October at the Rosemary Branch, 2 Shepperton Road, N1 3DT. Matinees and evening performances are available with prices starting from £12. For more information visit www.rosemarybranch.co.uk.