ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

IOLANTHE Director: David Kay Musical Director: Phil Boardman The Three Towns It was touch and go whether this Gilbert and Sullivan comic operetta would have an opening night. The venue where the show was to be presented was still in lock down but it reopened just in time for the company to sprinkle a little fairy magic to help us forget those dark pandemic times. The lights went down and the tabs opened to reveal a striking set of a woodland glade. The imaginative lighting (Jack Welsby) enhanced the visual and character presentation adding another dimension to the drama. I was a little concerned knowing sound was to be used. There was no need to have worried, the levels and balances did not intrude. Lea Royse and Elodie Perrier’s sound design aided the performers. The costumes, make-up, hair and wigs enriched the characters. The musical interpretation on stage and from the pit was of a high standard. The joy of the orchestra playing, briskly conducted, drawing out the delights of Sullivan’s score. The direction allowed the plight of Iolanthe and her fairy sisterhood to tell their story. This is a large company: maybe some other levels in stage would have helped the overall visual stage picture. As the fairies gather they discuss Iolanthe whom they all miss and ask their Queen to forgive her for breaking Fairy Law. The ladies ensemble singing has to be noted: the fairy ring of Celia (Julia Sutton) and Leila (Alison Rawlinson) and the other sprites were all individual characters creating mischief and fun with the Peers. Fran Davies was commanding in the role of Queen of the fairies. When she summoned Iolanthe she effectively, with the use of the stage trap door, appeared from the stream. Jennie Heywood, in the title role, with splendid clear diction effectively played the ill-fated mother of Strephon.