South Pacific Review

Civic Theatre, Darlington – 26 October 2015

Darlington Operatic Society revisit the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic South Pcific for their winter show this year.

Julian Cound plays Emile. Bringing to the role a commanding presence, a sense of solitude and a burnished tone that almost stops the show in This Nearly Was Mine. While Kat Flynn plays Nellie, her portrayal of this inspiringly positive yet vulnerable woman is pitch perfect. Full of nervous energy and fine acting, vocally she is also top-dollar.

In contrast Zoe Kent gives a full-blooded performance as the polynesian pedlar, Bloody Mary, that brings out her character. Bali Hai is beautifully sung.  During Happy Talk, as she forces Liat, Zoe Birkbeck, to play up to the American Lieutenant, himself in a state of malarial delirium.  There is good work from Michael Hirst as a traumatised lieutenant Cable.  His sensitive portrayal reveals many sides to this multifaceted character while his smooth voice is tailor-made for Younger Than Springtime.

Star of the show though is Ben Connor and his wonderful portrayal of Luther Billis.  Clearly channelling the spirit of Paul Lynde, Connor offers terrific comic value particularly in his grass-skirted drag number, Honey Bun.

The production is outstanding and its ridiculous to call this Amateur Operatics when the show is of such a professional standard.  The performers and production staff are dedicated and accomplished and it shows all the way through the show

Full of melodic glories from the live band led by Michael Trotter, the show is beginning to show its age. In 1949 there was obviously a ground breaking liberalism to its premise: a racially blinkered nurse from Little Rock, having fallen in love with an exiled French planter in wartime. And the tension between the sexual imperialism of the American troops and the yearnings of the Pacific islanders in that Bloody Mary pimps out daughter Liat to the highest bidder.  But the story lines aside, there is no doubting the professionalism and talent that has gone into this production

In Darlington until 31 October this is a beautiful acted and tremendously sung show that all the family can enjoy.