Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

The Pirates of Penzance

W S Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan
Carl Rosa Opera
Theatre Royal, Newcastle, and touring
(2005)

Production photo

This Carl Rosa production of jolly operetta classic The Pirates of Penzance is a real breath of fresh air. Tuesday night's rousing performance was feel-good and a definite crowd-pleaser with the mainly mature audience.

This was a traditional portrayal of the classic and fairly true to the original interpretation. It honours the Victorian operetta in much the same way as Carl Rosa's past productions of Iolanthe and The Mikado. But far from being a museum piece, this piratical romp was as fresh as paint.

With uplifting - and convincing - renditions of favourites like "I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major-General" (try saying that quickly) and "Pour, Oh Pour, the Pirate Sherry", it's all very jolly and uplifting. There's plenty of humour and a few funny, contemporary touches but, by and large, it's close to its roots.

The new costumes are divine - outfits from the old production of Pirates were lost in a fire - and straight from a bygone Victorian era. The ladies, in particular, are all frills, flounces, silks and lace, and the chaps don't do badly either, with swishing long coats, glinting buckles and head scarves.

Kevin Kyle, standing in as Frederic, certainly looked the part but at times he was drowned out by Charlotte Page's powerful portrayal of Mabel. Kyle looked so youthful and gauche, the pair appeared mismatched and Page almost appeared too old for the role, playing opposite him.

Steven Page was utterly captivating as the Pirate King - a dazzling performance meant you couldn't take your eyes off him.

Overall, it's a polished performance, as you'd expect from a Carl Rosa production, and everyone works so hard. Fantastic fun!

Reviewer: Katharine Capocci