Sunday, 11 August 2013

Lyric Opera Productions Ireland: Mikado

If I'd seen this last night, I'd have seen two half-performances broken by a fire alarm evacuation, but I didn't, so I'll let other people talk about that. Instead of the unusual excitement of thinking we're all about to die horribly, we had a high quality Mikado that looks poised to win the "Most Definitive Production" award, which doesn't exist but should. Perhaps I should go into detail about what I mean there in a separate post some time.

As with other professional productions this festival, choral precision is excellent. Fan movements tend to be fairly obvious, and with a large chorus, perfect synchronization is as impressive as it is satisfying. The follow spotting, too, was most pleasant to me... okay, so I have a bit of a thing for spots, but you can't deny the grand effect of darkening the whole stage down to a single spot on Katisha for "The hour of gladness"! The Little List song was changed, of course. Everybody does that; it's expected of you! And as has been this festival's tradition, reference to the shift to Harrogate was included (and then also later on, Nanki-Poo's address was there).

The title role, played by Derek Ryan, was the frequently-seen overbearing type, with a loud and terrifying laugh whenever he contemplates punishing somebody. Cruel, capricious, and possibly as much the cause of his son's departure as the proposal of marriage! Katisha (Jackie Curran-Olohan) takes after her sovereign, with the imposing appearance and general lack of courtesy. I doubt very much that she wants Nanki as particularly as she was quoted as, but simply wants to marry anyone, even just for a minute, rather than die an old maid. And so she should be happy with Ko-Ko (Eugene O'Hagen), who after all did have an execution - of sorts - so his position should be secure again. He has his two remaining wards, Pitti-Sing (Annalies Evans) and Peep-Bo (Dominica Williams), and the three of them can trade barbed wit back and forth at high speed for the rest of their days (which they'll probably count on the Nanki-Poo scale where each day is a year... poor tortured Ko-Ko). The Mikado's Daughter-In-Law-Elected, Yum-Yum (Jean Wallace), has a lovely voice, as one would expect of a company of this nature and a leading role; but it's only one voice, unlike Pooh-Bah (Tony Finnegan), who has a different voice for every salaried job he holds! Most impressive. Pish-Tush (Ciaran Olohan) has one job and one voice, which would be called the normal numbers of these things, but does enough of the plot that we don't even know what his job really is. And Nanki-Poo (Peter O'Rielly) is either a poor musician, or a bad musician, or a bad imitation of a poor musician, or a poor imitation of a bad musician; and I think he wanted some elf-ears, given the way his hair and costume looked. He would have made a fine Legolas. But as it was, he made a fine Nanki-Poo, which is rather better, given the setting.

I've shortened this review somewhat owing to it being 7AM and I have yet to get to bed. But I will say one thing: Eugene O'Hagen (Ko-Ko) improvises brilliantly. The Inner Brotherhood will have recognized that little bit of improvisation; the rest of the audience probably wouldn't even have known. VERY well done.

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