In a small rural village, two young lovers become engaged, and wish to share their happiness by making the rest of the villagers fall in love. They achieve this with the help of a sorcerer, John Wellington Wells, but as with all meddlesome plans, things go awry.
Opera Della Luna have taken the libretto and, with some tweaking, set it in the midst of the 1970s complete with velvet suits and cheesecloth dresses; and it works amazingly well. Sexual innuendo and seventies idiom abound, but are never played beyond the point of humour.
Oliver White and Abigail Iveson as the lovers Alexis and Aline are an attractive couple and both have strong voices. Ian Belsey and Sylvia Clarke play their respective parents, initially seeming to be prudish but showing their true nature as the show progresses. The other members of the cast are Philip Cox, David Freedman, Claire Walters and the always excellent Graham Hoadly as Mrs Partlett. The show is stolen, though, by Fenton Gray as Wells; whose cockney accented, wide-boy sorcerer is a delight to watch.
Staged with a small cast and on-stage 'village band', this feels like a large show in an intimate space, and hopefully under Jeff Clarke's solid direction Opera Della Luna will encourage many more people to discover this largely forgotten but very funny Gilbert and Sullivan work.
- Helen Jones
(Reviewed at the Lowry)