Gilbert and Sullivan: words that evoke love, fear or a confusing mix of both. Late nineteenth century operetta may be fun to perform (I went with two friends who were also in our school production in the 80s – with shameful slanty-eye makeup), but it can be taken far too seriously. But then, how many other late nineteenth century writing teams are still popular today?
The 3 Mikados knows why G&S are still loved and popular. Great parody can only be made if you love and understand your target, and director Russell Fletcher (Spontaneous Broadway and lots more) knows The Mikado inside out.
Colin Lane (Lano and Woodley, Ready Steady Cook), David Collins (The Umbilical Brothers) and Ester Hannaford (King Kong, Hairspray, Four Larks) are the only performers and promise that they can play all the parts. They do.
From improvised banter about how atrocious their performances are to other-genre versions of songs to slipping into performances that re-define how good G&S can be (go for Hannaford singing Katisha’s solo), it takes a stale form and makes it fresh, surprising and hilarious.
You’ll get more jokes if you know the work (if you love, or ever loved, G&S, missing it isn’t an option) but there’s enough to make it stand alone – and you will want to see a full production once you’ve had a taste.