Review – A Midsummer Night’s Savoy

August 9, 2013 | By More

✭✭✭✩✩  Enjoyably ridiculous

Gryphon Venues at the Point Hotel
Mon 5 – Sat 10 August 2013
Review by Hugh Simpson

Accend Productions’ A Midsummer Night’s Savoy, showing at Gryphon Venues at the Point Hotel, is a cheerfully inspired combination of Shakespeare with Gilbert and Sullivan.

Combining the Savoy Operas with A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of those ideas that, while unexpected, instantly strikes you with its simple effectiveness. So congratulations to Christopher Drew, who also directs, for his frothy, lively script and for coming up with it in the first place.

In truth, there’s not much Shakespeare here. It’s set in a forest, and Puck makes an appearance in order to create havoc by causing a group of lords to fall in love with the wrong people. Otherwise it’s Gilbert and Sullivan all the way.

Much of the amusement comes from the way that the writer has managed to shoehorn into the piece some of the greatest Savoy moments. We have a group of fairies whose peaceful existence is threatened by the arrival of a group of lords and their army … and that’s really about it. But … one of the fairies is called Buttercup, so cue some HMS Pinafore.

Here are characters called Alexis and Aline, as in The Sorcerer. Over there are Tolloller and Mountarrararat from Iolanthe. Alexis, the leader of the lords, while under the influence of Puck’s potion, says he might die of a broken heart – so why not sing On A Tree By A River from The Mikado? And why not have Hail Poetry from The Pirates of Penzance as a finale? If you’ve ever been puzzled by the identity of the Captain Shaw that the Fairy Queen in Iolanthe sings about – well, here he is!

It never threatens to make any sense whatsoever

If this all sounds somewhat ridiculous, that’s because it is. However, the musical numbers are so beautifully worked into the whole that it does not seem contrived. The only song that is not fully integrated is When The Night Wind Howls from Ruddigore, which is introduced by a rather tame ‘time to tell a story’ exchange, but as it is probably the evening’s musical highlight, this is soon forgiven.

Indeed, the musical numbers come so thick and fast that at times you would be grateful for some more time in between them. Especially as the comic script in between is effective, as is much of the acting. In his capacity as director, Drew also manages to solve a common problem in such productions of finding something to do for those on the stage not actually singing. However, the resultant constant movement can prove a little distracting.

Some of the early numbers are a little ragged around the edges in performance, but this soon settles down. Graham Webster is a sympathetic romantic lead as Alexis, and Alicia Glasgow has considerable vocal power as his true love Aline. Diane Kerr, as the fairies’ leader the Wood Mother, has a beautifully calm delivery, while Douglas Kerr impresses as the wild-eyed wise man Luther.

Iona Edmonstone is a thoroughly likeable Buttercup, while Matthew Sielewicz-Stanhope shows considerable physical dexterity and comic timing as Captain Shaw. James Turner is a quietly mysterious Puck.

The entire cast manage to communicate a real sense of enjoyment, not least Nick Clelland and Andrew Edmonstone as Tolloller and Mountarrarat, who make an excellent double act and whose dance routine is accomplished and somewhat touching. Musical director Vaughan Townhill and pianist David Townhill ensure the whole hour flows beautifully.

There’s a real sense of fun in this offering from a relatively new company. It never threatens to make any sense whatsoever, which only adds to the audience’s enjoyment.

Running time 1 hr
Run ends Sat 10 Aug 2013
Daily 8.15pm
Venue 109, Gryphon Venues at the Point Hotel. 34 Bread Street,Edinburgh, EH3 9AF
Tickets from www.edfringe.com
Accend Productions website: accend.weebly.com

ENDS

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