I do love Gilbert and Sullivan a great deal, even if it did take some time to fully understand some of the dialogue and lyrics. I did highly the 1997 and 2005 productions(both I believe from Australia), but this is my favourite HMS Pinafore of all, much better than the Frankie Howerd D'Oyly Carte production at any rate. It is a traditional and handsome production, with a more than convincing ship set and elegant costuming. The video directing and picture quality don't cheapen the performance in any way either, one would hope that a DVD will come in due course with hopefully even sharper picture, but what we have on VHS is fine. The sound is acceptable. The orchestral playing is buoyant yet allowing for sensitivity when needed, and the conducting is respectful to the score and lets it skip along as it should do. The chorus sing beautifully, and while they are not quite the sort of chorus that never stops moving like the Australia productions they are not stone-faced, static or posturing like in the Frankie Howerd production. The stage business is full of energy while never resorting to mincing or overdone unsubtleties. The dialogue and lyrics are still deliciously witty, and do feel like G&S, instead of additions that jars or come across as lowbrow instead. The performances are really excellent as well. Michael Raynor sings and acts with charisma and good sense of comic timing as the Captain, though on VHS/DVD my personal favourite is Anthony Warlow. Malcolm Williams is a dashing Ralph and Pamela Field a beguiling Josephine, while Lyndsie Holland is characterful Buttercup and her singing is not too strident either and John Ayldon is funny as Deadeye without quite being wicked. The best asset is easily the magnificent Sir Joseph of John Reed. He sings beautifully doing justice to his patter with aplomb, and he has a gift for comedy with his renditions of When I was a Lad and especially Never Mind The Whys and Wherefores enough to make your sides split. In conclusion, really wonderful, it promised to be faithful to G&S and it was exactly that. On top of that, it was funny, handsome to look at and very well sung and acted. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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