Set in the 1880s, the story of how, during a creative dry spell, the partnership of the legendary musical/theatrical writers Gilbert and Sullivan almost dissolves, before they turn it all around and write the Mikado.
In a poor working class London home Penny's love for her partner, taxi-driver Phil, has run dry, but when an unexpected tragedy occurs, they and their local community are brought together, and they rediscover their love.
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>
Most modern recordings and performances of the Mikado's solo, "A More Humane Mikado" feature a bloodthirsty laugh between the verses. This touch was added by Darrell Fancourt, a D'Oyly Carte performer from 1920-1953, and has been copied ever since - which is why the laugh is not performed by Richard Temple (Timothy Spall). 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 »
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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