That's just as well, because the brilliant director Cal McCrystal, best know for his slapstick must-see One Man, Two Guvnors, has promised that this production of a Victorian comedy will have its audiences laughing so much they will 'bang their heads on the seat in front'. And anyone who has seen One Man ... will know that he is quite capable of making that happen.
The irreverent librettist W.S Gilbert and all-round composer Arthur Sullivan scored hit after hit with their Savoy Operas – often funny and sometimes sentimental portraits of Britain viewed with cynicism but affection. Once subjected to rather ponderous and dated productions, these hilarious pieces are receiving, under the auspices of a younger generation of directors, whizz-bang new productions that put the fizz back into them.
On Broadway, Joe Papp started the trend with his high-camp Pirates of Penzance, and at English National Opera, after a long-running hit with The Mikado, Mike Leigh's Pirates has joined the repertoire alongside the usual mainstays and new commissions. Meanwhile, Union Theatre founder Sasha Regan is working her way through the G&S operettas with an all-male cast, adding another layer of comedy and pathos.
With politics in Britain at their most highly seasoned for years, it is the perfect time for a new look at Iolanthe, which makes fun of the House of Lords and contains thinly veiled caricatures of Queen Victoria, her companion John Brown, Lord Randolph Churchill and Liberal prime minister Gladstone.
When a young couple decided to marry, they have to seek legal permission, and that prompts an outbreak of anarchic fairies (yes, fairies) at Westminster.
Joining the willing Samantha Price in this madcap romp is Yvonne Howard as the queen of the fairies and ENO resident comic Andrew Shore as the Lord Chancellor.
Best wear a padded hat.
|What||Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe, English National Opera, Coliseum|
English National Opera
London Coliseum, St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4ES | MAP
|Nearest tube||Embankment (underground)|
13 Feb 18 – 17 Mar 18, 14 performances; times vary
|Price||£12 - £125|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|