In a year in which we have been celebrating the very best of British it is fitting that two of our great institutions – Gilbert and Sullivan and the Beefeaters of the Tower of London – should coalesce in Peterborough G&S Players’ production of The Yeomen of the Guard.
The operetta is unusual among the Gilbert and Sullivan canon, not just having a coherent plot that can easily be followed, but also possessing a darker hue than the likes of HMS Pinafore and Pirates of Penzance.
There is no ‘happy-ever-after’ finale, and there is a sense of tragedy lying beneath the humorous vignettes.
In this the role of the jester, Jack Point, is crucial.
-- See photos from the Peterborough G&S Players’ production, click the GALLERY link on the right
John Torr manages to convey a genuine melancholy, and in this is ably abetted by Marian Porter as his love interest, Elsie Maynard and Brett Hanson, who clearly relished his role as the brutish jailer and whose idea of a chat-up line is how some poor wretch met a grisly end in the Tower.
Director Carole Hanson coaxed winning performances from all her principals, with Phil Byrom effective as the smooth-talking Colonel Fairfax and Mel Ewles sympathetic as the love-lorn Phoebe.
Julie Bjerregaard added layers of characterisation to the forbidding Dame Carruthers and Tony Smith was suitably laconic as Sergeant Meryll.
Other leading roles were convincingly played by Mike King and Ricky Worraker, and musical director Stephen Godward oversaw some excellent close-harmony singing and clear diction on the always-demanding patter songs.
Although a more traditional interpretation than some more recent productions, this Yeomen proves the Society’s attention to detail and strength in depth pays dividends.
Yeomen of the Guard is at the Key Theatre until Saturday, 15 September.
Performances are 7.30pm, with a Saturday matinee at £2.30pm.
Tickets, priced at £14, are available from the Key box office, tel: 01733 207239.