My Review of The Mikado

I went to the Norbury Theartre to watch The Mikado performed by The Worcester Gilbert and Sullivan Society to celebrate their 50th year anniversary. The Mikado is a opera written by writer and composer Gilbert and Sullivan in Victorian England.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the performance of The Mikado at the Norbury Theatre. I went to watch the opera on the 19th of May, this performance was to celebrate the 50th year anniversary of Worcester’s Gilbert and Sullivan Society. The Mikado was the first full performance that the Society had done 50 years ago in 1974. The society has performed the Mikado eight times since over the years.  

The plot of The Mikado is highly entertaining and is a comedy operetta set in the town of Titipu where there is a law that that flirting is punishable with death. The Operetta is about a man called Nanki-Poo, played by Samuel Taunton, who is in love with Yum Yum played by Lisa Adams. Unfortunately, Yum Yum is already engaged to the Lord High Executioner played by Paul Ellis. She can’t leave him to be in love with a lowly peasant like Nanki-Poo. Just before the interval we are informed that Nanki-Poo actually the son of The Mikado the heir to Japan, he had fled from the palace because he was to be engaged to Katisha played by Christine Davies. 

The Society were an amateur group ranging with mostly adult to elderly actors there were several problems with remembering lines and from the audience you could see that The Mikado played by John Clay was reading off a script behind a newspaper. Since this is not the Society’s first time performing this Operetta and they have done it eight times, obliviously without the same cast, but hopefully with new knowledge each time. I was disappointed with the dialogue letting the performance fall several times.  

The costumes were traditional to the Japanese culture and after the interval there were costume changes displaying the change in the towns wealth after discovery of The Mikado’s son was living in Titipu. 

I enjoyed the comedy aspect of the operetta and the use of adapting some lines to to the present time for example the mentions of Boris Johnson another celebrities. Gilbert and Sullivan wrote fourteen Comical Operas, so therefore I was not surprised that there were several chuckling moments throughout the operetta.  

The singing and dancing were very effective, and the cast size was relatively big compared to the size of the stage, which was small. Most of the songs that were sung were well-known by Gilbert and Sullivan, so I recognised them for example ‘Three little maids from school are we’ And ‘The flowers that bloom in the spring.’ But it was a wholesome experience to listen to these songs and watch the performance live on stage.  

The only negative aspects of The Mikado as a Operetta , is the Misogynistic nature to marring of women. I understand that this was a part of Japanese culture and that when Gilbert and Sullivan wrote The Mikado in 1850 Victorian England marriage was used for business and status rather than for the concept of love. The character of Yum Yum is a teenage school girl who is to be married to The Lord High Executioner who is a man much older than she is. The name Yum Yum is down grading and objectifying her for only her looks and how she is desired by men. She doesn’t get proposal by one man but two men.  

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Louisa Kerton

Louisa Kerton

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