The Gondoliers

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Uncategorized


The story has beguiled audiences for over a century.  The Venetian gondoliers who became the revolutionary, republican Kings of Barataria.

The Gondoliers is the twelfth collaboration between Gilbert and Sullivan, following the successes of The Yeomen of the Guard in 1888.

The operetta embarks upon a characteristically comic use of a disjunction between appearances and reality.

Its design is of humble gondoliers becoming absolute monarchs, appearing to ridicule the concept of monarchy.  To all intents and purposes, it is frequently seen as one of Gilbert’s comical chronicle librettos, written about the time and its ‘indispensible’ class distinctions.

Over time, The Gondoliers has been played by a horde of the most proficient, accomplished and celebrated of international artists.

The Manx Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s Val Cowley skillfully directed a stylish 1920s themed adaption.  Timothy Markham and dexterous virtuoso Niall Howell Evans were well cast as the waggish Marco and Giuseppe Palmieri.

Though the rest of the cast was both capable and engaging, the presiding repartee in this adaption of the vintage operatic comedy was the tongue-in-cheek performance by both the Duke and Duchess of Plaza Toro (thespians Geoff Collier and Denise Groenewald).

Andrew Williamson’s Don Alhambra and Sarah Elder’s Casilda were witty, tenacious and fervor filled, adding gusto to the play with each respective stage appearance.

Though the performance was extraordinary in part, it seemed a little uncomfortable in its time zone. It was an unusual though popular choice to make, but I felt that the point of it could have been better conveyed.

For me, the pinnacle of the night came from a man sitting directly to my right.  When the orchestra began, he nodded his head to every stroke of the bass. As the staging progressed, he knew every word, note in each tune and piece of dialogue.

I was impatient to speak with him at the interval, he told me that he had attended many adaptions of the operetta in his lifetime. He was both moved and delighted by The Manx Gilbert & Sullivan Society and reworking of the production.

Manx resident, Mr Charles Whener said: “I have seen several performances of The Gondoliers. Geoff is a sensational performer with a real stage presence.“

It is another job well done for the Manx Gilbert & Sullivan Society. I wish them well with their upcoming production of The Mikado, to be staged in 2012.

  1. Shimky says:

    Excellent review!

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