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Corn Exchange - HMS Pinafore

25th March 2003.

This was the Newbury Weekly News review.

Light relief in a sombre week

Opera della Luna: HMS Pinafore, at The Corn Exchange, on Tuesday, March 25

It was just what the audience needed - a little light relief in a week of sombre news stories. HMS Pinafore, Gilbert's light-hearted satire on the Victorian class system was a delight.

Everyone knew that Josephine, the Captain's daughter, would win her true love, Ralph Rackstraw the humble sailor, and not Sir Joseph Porter, the Ruler of the Queen's Navy, but it did not matter. From the opening scene of a nearly bare stage, built up by a crew of jolly jack tars into the deck of a ship in harbour, to the finale with problems solved and lovers united, our attention was held.

Dick Deadeye, played by Philip Cox, was horrible; Little Buttercup the peddler woman, played by Louise Crane, was mysterious and attractive; Ralph Rackstraw the hero and "an Englishman" had a suitably manly jaw; Sir Joseph Porter KCB was beautifully played by Edward Gower, his weediness contrasting with Ralph's robust physique; while Josephine, the Captain's daughter, (Ailsa Mooney) was young maidenhood in her prime, trying to decide between marrying wealth or where her heart was. But let us not forget Kirsty Hoiles as the plain first cousin to the Ruler of the Queen's Navy, or Philip Cox's other part as the same ruler's hideous aunt or Ian Belsey's upright and correct Captain Corcoran.

Jeff Clarke, the producer and leader, was at the piano of The Massed Bands of the Pinafore, as well as conducting Sullivan's music.

At the end when, after few explanations and several surprises, Ralph and Josephine won approval for their marriage, the good-humoured audience filed out. Many of them, like me, humming the catchy Sweet Little Buttercup under their breath.