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DIRECTOR’S:   Frank Banks (Cox & Box) / Richard Fraser (The Zoo) / Alison Gibbs (Trial by Jury)

MD’S:  Sue Trost (Cox & Box) / Margaret Johnson (The Zoo) / Shirley Hale (Trial by Jury)

A very interesting, lively and amusing evening’s entertainment.  I have never seen The Zoo before, but thought it was very interesting and colourful, despite being rather gruesome in content!

We were treated to some excellent performances, lovely costumes and a quirky, different take on Trial by Jury.  The Directors had contrived to make each Act very different, which gave us an interesting evening, with some good contrasts.

The musical configurations for each Act were good, with well-rehearsed and harmonious musical numbers – well done to the three MD’s, and I liked the comedy value of Shirley Hale for Trial by Jury!

The set for Cox & Box was good, typifying a gentleman’s lodgings – with two excellent performances from Graham Breeze as Cox and Robert Little as Box.  The story, if anything was sillier than usual – Sullivan music with lib by Burnand – but it somehow seemed quite real, with nice contrasts between for example Box’s Lullaby, slow and gentle, and Cox’s My Master is Punctual, quick and lively, with various additional silly songs, but all given a believable air by these two gents, who had extremely good voices, created good three dimensional characters which blended well.  In this Act I was not convinced by Richard Dean’s Bouncer – he was not forceful or smart enough for an ex-Army man, although I liked his narrative song about the army.

This then set us up for Act 2 – The Zoo.  A very good opening with lovely costumes, and some excellent principals.  I particularly liked Brain Miles as Carboy, as well as singing beautifully, he gave us comedy and pathos with his ineffectual attempts to hang himself, and his relationship with Laetitia giving us a softer side to him.  Paula Fraser was a winsome Laetitia – who gave us lots of expression, to match her erstwhile suitor, and sung the part well with lots of expression.  There were also Thomas and Eliza, played by Graham Breeze and Jo Bigg, who performed a lovely number Ah, Maiden Fair, and I have made a note of good timing from Thomas in We Gather From What You have Said.  I also found the number where Thomas was eating the whole time very amusing – obviously Eliza believed in the way to a man’s heart was via his stomach – very well done.  Again a simple story, but well told and super costumes, lots of colour, worn well, with nice wigs where required.  Tom Gammell completed the principal line-up with a contrasting performance as Laetitia’s father.  This piece had brightness and vivacity from the cast and was most enjoyable to watch, despite the rather dark suicide and poisoning plot!!

This was followed by Act 3 – Trial by Jury – and a very different take on this one.  The jury were all pantomime characters, as were the Counsel, the Defendant, the Plaintiff, and the Judge.  It was hilarious, and so suited the music.  The set was again excellent – as were the costumes, with the exception of Snow White’s hem, which spoiled an otherwise superlative set of costumes.  I loved Brian Miles again, this time as the Defendant, cast as Prince Charming but with the look and ways of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast – a good characterisation, plenty of expression, and nicely sung.  Jo Bigg looked super as the Judge, and again was very expressive.  Loved her sparkly mauve costume, it really suited her and the part.  Paula Fraser gave us a slightly off-beat Cinderella /Plaintiff, which was a nice departure from the norm, and her four attendants were nicely played by Gill Davidson (Snow White), Ketina Orriss (Sleeping Beauty), Alice Bridges (Belle) and Nicole Santelmann (Rapunzel).  Frank Banks as the Usher was the only fairly normal character, but needed a bit more volume, as sometimes his words got a little lost.  I also noted the Wolf lurking in the background!

So all in all a very enjoyable evening’s entertainment from PBGS – well dressed and well sung with some lovely harmonies and good characterisations, plus humour and fun.

Putteridge Bury Gilbert & Sullivan Society

TRIPLE BILL” Review date: 11th April 2013

Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin


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