EPS Review #53 - The Yeomen of the Guard

Patricia has continued to treat me to occasional Thursday evenings at the Savoy, and last week braved The Yeoman of the Guard (1888). Previously we saw the Mikado (which I reviewed), Penzance, and Iolanthe. The latter put her to sleep, though somehow watching the entire feminine company in gauzy fairy silks kept me wide awake.

This time even I was bored at first. Sullivan was pleased to try to produce a more serious opera, with "no topsy-turvydom", and I found myself mostly looking at the interesting costumes in the full-ensemble pieces. Then Elsie and Point sang the duet "I have a song to sing, O!", whose beauty and familiarity made me grab Patricia's boot. Unfortunately, Elsie (Janet Fairlie) is a Miss Piggy-style singer, and didn't come through clearly enough, though we sat in the second row of a nearly empty theatre (don't you hate it when you think of the clapping responsibility that thin attendance will entail?). Jack Point (Paul Barnhill) has a better voice, and acted well. The surprising hit was Kate (Sophie-Louise Dann). For most of the play she was silent and stooped, with an all-too real-looking carbuncle on her face. In fact, just standing there she could look quite creepy and insane. But in the quartet "Strange adventure! Maiden Wedded/To a groom she's never seen", Kate had the most piercingly beautiful voice in the show. The notes (which we read in the intermission) state that Jack is the only tragic figure in the whole G&S canon. Maybe he shouldn't have worn a red nose then, unless we wanted to think of a Crying Clown. Actually, I think Gilbert's plots often skirt painful male/female issues, as MSND does, though Gilbert can be almost hateful sometimes. Still, I was sad at the reprise of "I have a song to sing, O!", and was charmed how the final measures trampled my sentimentality in an exuberant burst of singing. Perhaps I would experience more moments like that, if I were a better man, and could watch real Opera.

Point:	For I have a song to sing, O!
All:	Sing me your song, O!
Point:	It is sung to the moon
	By a love-lorn loon,
	Who fled from the mocking throng, O!
	It's the song of a merryman, moping mum,
	Whose soul was sad, and whose glance was glum,
	Who sipped no sup, and who craved no crumb,
	As he sighed for the love of a ladye!
All:	Heighdy! heighdy!
	Misery me, lackadaydee!
	He sipped no sup and he craved no crumb,
	As he sighed for the love of a ladye!

Gavin wrote: my flatmate's mum loves G&S; must admit i'm completely ignorant of it

Ewan wrote: I have a visceral dislike of G&S....