Review: EBOS presents The Gondoliers at South Hill ParkBy Steph Davies
November 13, 2012
South Hill Park, Bracknell
Saturday, November 10
The actors’ exhortation ‘break a leg’ could easily have taken on a new meaning at South Hill Park last week.
East Berkshire Operatic Society took the stage with their wonderful, imaginative production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers, and act two saw cast members skiing down a ski slope on stage.
I’ve seen some amazing things in that theatre over the years, but that was a first!
Happily, the six performances passed without anyone being taken off in an ambulance, and with the audience marvelling at this audacious and entertaining set design, the work of Andrew Cooper and Tony Critchley.
This was an ultra-modern interpretation of the comic operetta, with the two Gondoliers winners of an X Factor-style competition, and it worked splendidly.
Damian Thomas and Stephen Crompton were fantastic as Marco and Giuseppe while Emma Carver and Debbie Mann shone as fans Tessa and Gianetta who became their wives – or did they? I particularly enjoyed Emma Carver’s hilarious Essex girl portrayal of Tessa, and what a lovely voice she has.
Julian Hirst and Anna McCormack were wonderfully entertaining as the Duke and Duchess of Plaza-Toro, while Claire Brewster and Nick Williams were delightful as secret lovers Casilda and Lewis.
This was EBOS’s 60th anniversary production and the Olympic and Royal Jubilee opening segment was a touching tribute to what has been an extraordinary year.
Directed by Duncan Hamilton, this superb show was full of innovation and colour, but with the words and music of Gilbert and Sullivan always the central focus.
Well-loved songs such as When a Merry Maiden Marries and Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes ensured we left the theatre humming, but not before listening to the very last piece of music, performed after the final curtain by the talented band under musical director Julie Dance.