"Laughter on the high Cs!"
by remotegoat reviewer for remotegoat on 02/06/15

My headline is stolen from Alex Weatherhill (playing Ruth) but there’s no better way to sum-up this production. Laughs come rolling like the surf and high Cs? Well I’m no musico – but some of the boys in this show are hitting notes that could surely crack many a prima donna.

G&S don’t always enjoy the highest reputation amongst ‘serious’ theatre people, probably because of their lack of serious emotional depth and that they are seen as quaint clichés – also they have long been a staple of the village hall. They are all those things – but they are also beautifully written, brilliantly scored and very funny, their gentle satire on social norms often resonant today – in Pirates our honest band of buccaneers are beset by the dishonesty of the ‘respectable’ classes (these hard working families we hear so much about). This is what makes them a cultural force and why so many people turned out for this production at the Northcott on a Tuesday night.
Why All Male? I can’t know Regan De Winters’ reasons. Certainly there is a tradition of single sex G&S – at single sex schools, forces reviews, POW camps – and it provides extra outlets for hilarity (yes we have a long tradition of enjoying drag!) as well as an intriguing handle for a contemporary production. Whatever your views, by the end of this you will no longer ask. It just works. Wonderfully.

The plot is a matter of record, so I’ve no fear of giving away the end – but it is quite involved:
(deep breath) Frederic, Slave of Duty, is apprenticed to pirates and abhors the criminal life though bound by duty to them till his 21st, which is now, he is about to affiance himself to his old nurse when their lair is invaded by Mabel and her sisters with their father the Major General – Mabel and Frederic fall in love, the pirates and sisters likewise, but this will never do, the MG appeals to the pirates not to leave him (an orphan) to face old age alone, the tender-hearted pirates relent, having renounced his pirate ways Frederic is free to wed Mabel but first his Duty is to rid the seas of his swashbuckling former comrades, but wait, his apprenticeship binds him till his 21st birthday and as he was born on Feb 29th he has had only five, his clear duty now is to return to the pirate band and reveal the MG’s dishonesty (not an orphan!) –they raid the MG’s mansion, the police arrive and overcome by loyalty to The Queen the pirates surrender, it is revealed that they are all noblemen gone wrong and all is well! (lummy, what a sentence!).

There are too many brilliant performances (18?) to credit but the understudies (Ben Irish : Mabel and Liam Lakin : Edith) who stepped up on the night deserve special praise. So stellar I’d never have known.

All Together Now: It is, it is, a glorious thing to be a pirate king!

Other recent reviews by remotegoat reviewer
Dead Sheep
YES. YES. YES. Simply Marvellous by remotegoat reviewer
A fascinating shift of focus by remotegoat reviewer
How d'you like your eggs? by remotegoat reviewer
Skin Deep
welcome to the new nostagia by remotegoat reviewer
A young woman's empowering journey by remotegoat reviewer