City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Mikado, King's Theatre, Review

By Justine Blundell - Posted on 29 March 2011

Show Details
King's Theatre
The Edinburgh Gilbert and Sullivan Society
Alan Boethwick (Director), David Lyle (Musical Director)
Scott Baron (Nanki-Poo), Gillian Robertson (Yum-Yum), Geoff Lee (Ko-Ko), Matthew Stanhope (Pooh-Bah), Rachel Allan (Peep-Bo), Rae Lamond (Pitti-Sing), Ian LAwson (The Mikado), Fiona Main (Katisha), Andrew Crawford (Go-To), Andrew Edmonstone (Pish-Tish)
Running time: 

The Mikado contains perhaps the wittiest of Gilbert’s lyrics and this production was a spirited, lively and pacey rendition. The plot is a bizarre blend of the surreal with the real, where pompous officials act with an arbitrary logic, somewhat reminiscent of the Red Queen in Alice In Wonderland.

This is a world in which flirting is punishable by death and the chief magistrate is both judge and executioner, but yet couldn’t hurt a fly. G K Chesterton was quoted as saying that ‘Gilbert pursued and persecuted the evils of modern England til they had literally not a leg to stand on’ and this sentiment was wickedly carried through with some wry digs on the current evils – tram revivalists, bankers’ bonuses and coalitionists all coming under fire and eliciting loud appreciative laughter from the audience.

There were some great performances that managed to convey not only the humour but also the pathos that raises this opera above the merely comic. The characters are a magic mix of the caricature with the natural that inevitably lends itself to some pantomime-type action, but there were some moving moments too.

Ko-Ko (The Lord High Executioner), played by Geoff Lee rather stole the show, as his increasing desperation as he attempted in vain to control events that spiralled ever more absurdly beyond his reach, was matched by increasingly ridiculous comedy moments. A highlight was the song Here’s a How-De-Do! If I Marry You, sung by Ko-Ko, Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo during which Ko-Ko, barely able to contain his delight at the others’ latest mortal misfortune, inappropriately dances a jig, bounces across the stage on a space hopper and finishes by wheeling madly about on a girl’s scooter.

This is perhaps the time to give a mention to the director Alan Borthwick whose staging of this was superb.

Other male performances worthy of mention were: Matthew Stanhope as Pooh-Bah who was suitably haughty and self-absorbed, and Scott Baron as Nanki-Poo who, while lacking the confidence in his acting to always hit the right note with some of the dialogue, nevertheless had a beautiful voice that was always bang-on musically.

The girls lifted the show from the moment they entered to perform Three Little Maids. They all gave memorable performances but Gillian Robertson as Yum-Yum was particularly delightful, with a strong and lyrical singing voice, truly great comic timing and an ability to express real emotion when necessary.

From the second half onwards it just got better and better with Ian Lawson playing a commanding and powerful Mikado with some deliciously wicked comic moments and Fiona Main producing a ferociously brilliant Katisha. It was a great piece of entertainment performed with energy and enthusiasm.

The show's run now ended