Is there such a thing as a Gilbert & Sullivan ‘purist’?
I don’t think of myself as a G&S ‘fan’ but I have seen most of their canon over the years. I have seen P of P several times. I enjoyed this one. One has to take Gilbert & Sullivan for what it is. This should never be an excuse for doing it badly but the dialog, lyrics and operetta style have to be done with a certain amount of tongue in cheek. I didn’t go expecting ‘Long Days Journey Into Medea; the Musical’. I expected it to be fluffy and fun. I was not disappointed.
Over the years I’ve learned that a good source for the scoop about Festival shows is the wait staff at local restaurants. Being locals, they’ve often already seen the show. They also get reviews from diners all season as well as casual info from customers and friends in the cast and crew. Talking with our favorite restaurant server Tuesday night before the show, he said the reviews had been mixed but that he liked it very much.
After seeing it, I wondered why opinions would differ. My assumption was that if you like G&S you’d find this production thoroughly enjoyable. If you don’t like G&S this production would remind you why you felt that way. I found a very negative notice by a Toronto critic whose opinion I respect. All of his criticisms were well taken. In summary, he felt it lacked focus and most of the design elements needed editing. He could not tell where the director’s attitude toward G & S fell on the spectrum from cherished reverence to outright mockery. I can’t say I disagree but if those are the flaws they did not bother me.