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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>
Mike Leigh was so frustrated with the continued relegation of his movies to art house cinemas instead of wide release that he joked that he would have cast Arnold Schwarzenegger as both Gilbert and Sullivan if his budget had permitted it. See more »
As Temple discusses Princess Ida, he removes all of his makeup with cold cream. At the end of the scene, he removes heavy black eyeliner that wasn't there a moment ago. See more »
They walked downstage in the Japanese manner.
John D'Auban, Choregrapher:
They walked downstage in the Japanese manner because they are Japanese.
Exactly, and that is precisely why they are here.
John D'Auban, Choregrapher:
Our three little maids are not Japanese. However, they are very funny.
No funnier, however, than they would be if they all sat down on pork pies.
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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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