The Pirates of Penzance Review

Wilton’s Music Hall – until 16 March 2019

Reviewed by Claire Roderick


Sasha Regan’s all male Pirates of Penzance is simply irresistible. This joyful, exuberant and hilarious show is a perfect fit for Wilton’s wonderful space, with the cast popping up all around the auditorium. The first appearance of the ladies parading around the balcony is unforgettable, and the bungled burglary is a torch lit wonder.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s absurd story is lifted to supreme silliness by the non-stop visual gags going on in the background as Frederic (the impressive Tom Senior) and Mabel (the sweet but strong Tom Bales) gamely sing their hearts out professing their true love. Lizzi Gee’s choreography injects an impish joy into each musical number, even with simple head movements, and the oh-so-familiar songs are made to feel fresh and exciting. The sergeant and his policeman, complete with Cornish accents and giant moustaches on sticks are a hoot, and the chorus of girls and Mabel’s sisters will have you crying with laughter. This is a show you could return to time and time again, as you’re bound to miss some of the shenanigans in the ensemble. Vocally, the cast is spot on, and musical director Richard Baker on the piano is outstanding. The only colour amongst the costumes of white and beige is found on the Major General’s hunting jacket, but this splendour is offset by the prop used as his noble steed! David McKechnie is word-perfect in the role, while James Thackeray’s louche Pirate King and Alan Richardson’s gleefully odious but pitiable Ruth are a magnificent comic double act.

This is a must-see production for Gilbert and Sullivan aficionados and novices alike – gloriously daft and intoxicatingly uplifting.