From the first note, the WA Gilbert & Sullivan Society drew the audience into the fantastical world of Iolanthe. Fuelled by outstanding operatic voice and Michael Brett’s conduction of the orchestra, the musical impressed and transcended.
While by no means a professional production, the Society brought the renowned musical to vivid life. Rather than allow themselves to be limited artistically by the small size of the Dolphin Theatre, they used simple backgrounds and props that put the focus on the musical and dramatic performances of the cast.
Despite a few minor slip-ups – at times too many voices overlapped and became an unintelligible musical dialogue – Geoff Kelso’s direction successfully honoured the original piece while bringing certain modern refreshments to the interpretation of the tale. While some elements may have been better left behind – especially the role of the selfie sticks and the paparazzi – the play stayed true to the story and was incredibly humorous.
Individually, Claudia Sosin’s ‘Phyllis’, Alan Needham’s ‘Lord Chancellor’ and Belinda Cox as the ‘Fairy Queen’ were particularly impressive and definitely brought a genuine quality to the show. Additionally, Christina The gave a rousing yet disappointingly short performance as the titular character, and I would have enjoyed hearing more from her.
Iolanthe’s political humour and self-referential double entendre will appeal to adults, while younger audiences may enjoy the marvellous costumes of the fairies and members of parliament.
Words by Casey Andreou
Iolanthe runs at UWA’s Dolphin Theatre until 11 June.