By the mystic regulation of our dark association,
if you open conversation with another kindred soul
you must eat a sausage roll...
In their final opera, The Grand Duke, Gilbert and Sullivan return to the theme of their first collaboration - Utopia Limited: A troupe of actors takes political power. Unfortunately, The Grand Duke suffers from many of the same problems as Utopia Limited — it has a long and rambling libretto — and it requires more principal quality voices than a typical Gilbert and Sullivan opera. Yet, the story contains a number of hilarious moments and funny characters, the music is cheery and flavourful. This opera has not been performed as a fully staged professional production in the UK since 1896.
In the Grand Duchy of Pfennig Halbpfennig, the theatrical troupe of Ernest Dummkopf is plotting a conspiracy to overthrow the tyrannical Grand Duke Rudolph. The conspirators recognize each other by eating greasy sausage rolls as a secret sign – an idea that especially Ludwig, leading comedian of the troupe, finds revolting. Ludwig soon replaces the company manager, Ernest, who was going to replace Grand Duke Rudolph of Pfennig Halbpfennig. After condemning each of them to a social death by drawing the ace from a deck of cards in two "statutory" duels, Ludwig assumes all of Ernest's and Rudolph's rights and obligations. Soon he finds himself with far more wives, and prospective wives, than he ever expected while Lisa, the girl he really loves, looks on in frustration. But help might be close at hand.
The first half of the play is a bit slow going but the second half is thoroughly entertaining, with plenty of jokes and catchy tunes - the marriage party has dressed up in the company’s Troilus and Cressida costumes – “Athens at its best.” A lot of humour is derived from the actors' ideas that their new positions should be considered as parts. Whereas Ludwig sees the Grande Duchess as a meek, obedient wife, Julia senses strong scenes of justifiable jealousy, which Ludwig comments on derisively: “I wouldn’t stab him. It’s been done to death.” In this world of Topsy Turvy paradoxes, all the characters are German - only Julia is "an English Comedienne" speaking with a strong German accent.
The standard of the cast is very high. Stefan Bednarczyk plays Ludwig with panache and a mischievous grin. Richard Suart is at his comic best as the miserly, money grubbing Grand Duke who cannot be without his teddy bear, eventually snatched away by Ludwig. Philip Lee convinces as the melancholy manager in love with Julia, a feisty Charlottte Page. Robin Rayner was very funny as Ben Hashbaz, a Costumier, and his dance was glorious.
By Carolin Kopplin
The entire run is now sold out.
Evenings at 7.30pm. Extra Monday matinees at 2.00pm on 9 and 16 April 2012.
Tickets £18, £15 concessions
118 Finborough Road
Write us a 5min audio play about the Royal wedding or just the royals or weddings. Entry is free.
The four winners will have their play produced by us and broadcast over Will and Kate's wedding weekend.
For entry details follow this Link - http://tincanpodcast.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=75&Itemid=72
Deadline is March 18th.
Thanks and Good luck
Tin Can Podcast