Thursday, 26 March 2015


On Saturday 28 February the three of us - along with Hei Mun (who organised it), Danica and Laura - went to the King's Head Theatre on Upper Street to see Ruddigore (had a good meal at a nearby Vietnamese beforehand too).

It was a production by Charles Court Opera company, who I (and Hei Mun, separately) had seen there last year doing Patience, and who we had seen at the Rosemary Branch doing their Christmas panto, Billy The Kid.

We all enjoyed it a lot - I back to my enjoyment levels of Patience, rather than Billy The Kid. Although a lesser-known G&S work, I knew it from having done it with the Gilbert & Sullivan Society at University in my first year, although I'm fairly sure I haven't seen it since. I was going to say 'or heard', but I do have an EMI CD box set of G&S operas, so I've heard it in there a couple of times.

Again, the singing and acting was very good. The set was simpler than Patience. John Savournin, the director, was performing in it again, and he was excellent as Sir Despard. Matthew Kellett, who had played Billy The Kid in the panto, was Robin Oakapple, and I much preferred him in this. I'd been looking forward to seeing Amy J Payne again, but sadly her role was (the only) one which was being done by two different people, and it wasn't her night (so in fact there was no one from Patience in it); but Sylvia Clarke was perfectly good. They all were, so much so that it seems invidious to single anyone out; although Cassandra McCowan as Mad Margaret was also very good, and she and Sir Despard made an excellent 'normal' couple too after their reunion (he looking surely deliberately like Richard Osman). (Bethan spotted that we had seen her as one of the three little maids in the Mikado in the Charing Cross Theatre, though I didn't recognise her.) Once again, a production and performances as good as any one would hope to see in the West End, out the back of a pub.

It was promoted as a 'Hammer horror' style production (in much the same way as Patience was promoted as a 'Goth' style production), but that didn't really intrude as a style too much. For some reason, the programme contained the full text of the opera (book and lyrics), in contrast with the slimline programmes of Patience and Billy The Kid; which shows how relatively little dialogue there was in it.

Some reviews (a lot more than for Patience; must be the time that's passed). The Arts Desk. Standard. Bachtrack. Fringe Opera. Webcowgirl. London City Nights. Planet Hugill. Everything Theatre. Grumpy Gay Critic. Remote Goat. Broadway World. Jonathan Baz. Camden Review. British Theatre Guide. A couple make the point that they pitch very well how to play characters who could be quite unappealing.

Finally, the Charles Court Opera page on the production.