Theatre Review: The Mikado

The Mikado,the best known and most popular of the comic operettas written by Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert. Poking fun at the obsession with all things Japanese, in 1880s middle-class London, the plot is deliberately silly, and serves as a framework for the humour and music.

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Presented by Northern Light Theatre Company

Reviewed 11 October 2019

The Mikado,the best known and most popular of the comic operettas written by Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert. Poking fun at the obsession with all things Japanese, in 1880s middle-class London, the plot is deliberately silly, and serves as a framework for the humour and music. This is a work that, when done well, is both hilarious and musically beautiful.

Nathan Quadrio directs a solid cast of experienced performers. Monique Warren wields a mean baton and keeps the music tight and tuneful.

Benjamin Fleming puts in the effort as Nanki-Poo but lacks the required stage presence. Dione Baker is in sensational voice as always, but just can’t get the characterisation of Yum-Yum right, therefore losing much of the humour. Quadrio stepped into the role of Pooh-Bah after a cast illness, and does a good job of it. Sandy Wandel’s Katisha is well characterised, prancing around the stage in what looks like a Japanese BDSM outfit. The stand-out performance of the night was from Paul Briske as Ko-Ko. Briske was almost the only principal who gave the required energy on stage.

There was some discussion amongst the audience on opening night that perhaps the speakers weren’t working, because the volume was too low. Technical issues aside, there was also a general sense that none of the performances, other than Briske and Wandel, were “big” enough. You can’t over-do the Mikado: it needs to be cranked up to 11 in order to work. Hopefully, this was a case of opening night tentativeness, and the energy will improve as the season goes on. Kudos though to the chorus, who were all working to optimum, in good harmony, and clearly having fun on stage: they were a joy to watch.

Despite low energy, this was a well put-together production, with Quadrio also in charge of set and costume design (is there nothing that boy can’t do?).

Always a thoroughly enjoyable night in the theatre, Northern Light’s Mikado is well worth a look.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Twitter: @TraceyKorsten

Venue: Shedley Theatre
Season: October 11th-October 23rd
Duration: 2 hours
Tickets: Adults $32, Concession $26, Child Under 16 $20, Family (2A/2C) $90
*Booking fees apply

Bookings: https://www.northernlight.org.au/tickets/

@TraceyKorsten

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