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After their production "Princess Ida" meets with less-than-stunning reviews, the relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan is strained to breaking. Their friends and associates attempt to get the two to work together again, which opens the way to "The Mikado," one of the duo's greatest successes. Written by
Steve Fenwick <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Richard Temple performs "A More Humane Mikado" during the dress rehearsal, the script cuts out the third verse. Partly this may have been because of time considerations, but also because the original verse used the word "nigger" and was not changed until the 1940s. See more »
Gilbert sarcastically suggests that Sullivan, wanting to write a more serious opera, might try to collaborate with "Mr. Ibsen in Oslo." At the period in which the movie is set, the city was named Christiania. See more »
[rehearsing a line]
Merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to a bald and unconvincing narrative.
No, Barrington. "An *otherwise* bald and unconvincing narrative."
Was that incorrect? I-I do beg your pardon.
On the contrary, it has only just occurred to me.
Ah. To an *otherwise* bald and unconvincing narrative.
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Topsy Turvy captures Gilbert and Sullivan in the midst of a turbulent period in their partnership. Desperate to be taken more seriously as a composer, Arthur Sullivan attempts to renege on the Gilbert and Sullivan contract with the Savoy Theatre. While his partner William S Gilbert struggles to come up with something new to write about. Each man, in a sense, is longing for individual acclaim but they are trapped in an entity neither one can shake. The fame of their collective energies has taken on a life of its own and the theater crowds want more.
The film is mostly the story of a theater production of the Mikado, one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most famous operas. Director Mike Leigh, notorious for writing on the go, has structured a play within a play to a great delight. Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner are brilliant as Gilbert and Sullivan, and Tim Spall has a wonderful turn as one of the actors, Mr. Temple.
Their is more here than just two playwrights. The entire cast is seen as more than just pieces of a production. From choristers to administrative personnel, Topsy Turvy is alive with characters. One of the best is Gilbert's long-suffering wife Kitty. Bereft of children and saddled with a husband who doesn't show outward affection, Kitty (Lucy) could be a two dimensional afterthought. However, her pain at being childless is wonderfully played by Lesley Manville. It is clear they love each other but neither is capable of articulating that love, very odd for a man who writes for a living.
Filled with humor and grace, Topsy Turvy is one of the best films about acting and a beautiful embrace of all things theatrical.
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