Theatre Royal, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance has docked at the Theatre Royal once again.

This production by The Scottish Opera and D'Oyly Carte is nicely staged with stylised, almost cartoon like, sets, (by designer Jamie Varten) which actually add to the staging, especially in the second half. The large cast and orchestra is a delight to see and hear, especially in the settings of the Theatre Royal, which adds an extra delight to the proceedings.

Although to have the words displayed in English, when the show is sung in English does seem to be a little odd. This is not too distracting until the words kept disappearing part way through a song - it would be improved by having them on all the time.

Telling the story of Frederic (a role shared by Nicholas Sharratt and Sam Furness at different performances) who has serviced his apprenticeship with the Pirates of Penzance after his former nursemaid, (Rosie Aldridge) misheard he should serve his apprenticeship as a pilot.

The story never slows as we follow Frederic leaving the pirates, having served until he is twenty-one. He then encounters a group of young ladies for the first time and thwarts his nursemaid's chances of becoming his wife when he falls in love with Mabel (Rebecca Bottone)

However, when it is revealed he was born on February 29th he has to re-join the Pirates, as technically he is only five years old. Add in to the mix Major General Stanley (Richard Suart), the police and some of Gilbert and Sullivan's best known songs and you have a great night's entertainment.

John Dixon