“Tao Po: is anybody home?” at The Street Theatre, September 18. Reviewed by HELEN MUSA.
THOUGH written in 1885, Gilbert and Sullivan’s quaint representation of Japan still contains much to charm and entertain a contemporary audience.This new production by Queanbeyan Players eschews flashy theatrical effects and innovative staging, in favour of unobtrusive direction, careful attention to good diction and dialogue delivery and tuneful, accurate singing to allow Gilbert’s deliciously subversive libretto and Sullivan’s endlessly enchanting melodies to work their magic.
Director Judith Colquhoun has cast wisely and well. Her principals act with conviction, and the large chorus disarmingly wear their affection for the material proudly on their collective sleeves, as they earnestly execute Christina’s Philipp’s choreographed movement and accurately negotiate Sullivan’s lovely harmonies.
Lachlan McGinness and Alyssa Morse make an attractive pair as the young lovers, Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum, remaining steadfastly optimistic as they negotiate the many ridiculous barriers to their relationship. Matt Greenwood gives an assured comic performance as the ever-resourceful Ko-Ko, and Terry Johnson, perfectly cast as the dour Pooh-Bah, nailed his laughs with impressive accuracy.
Janene Broere actually makes the audience care about her formidable and funny Katisha, while Peter Smith as The Mikado, in one of his best performances to date, dominates whenever he is on stage. Tristan Foon (Pish-Tush), Anna Greenwood (Pitti-Sing) and Theresa Buetre (Peep-Bo) all offer strong support.
Impressive also was the excellent balance achieved between singers and orchestra, by conductor, Michael Politi. However, while the evocative, minimalist setting provided an agreeable environment for the action, the curious lack of headwear for the male ensemble detracted from the otherwise colourful, impressionistic costumes. Although not enough to spoil the enjoyment of the first night audience who chortled and cheered throughout.