The Parson's Pirates
Civic Theatre, Chelmsford
Wednesday 30th May 2012
An evening of two halves from Opera della Luna in this, their show based around an amateur production of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, to raise money for church funds.
In the first half we are introduced to the stereotypical Reverend Arthur Bender of St Michael's Under Ware (Alan Vicary). With innuendo and word play in abundance, he gradually recruits his cast from his comedy pair of sidekicks and the plants among the audience. The audience seemed to relish the chance to exercise their operatic talents during the panto style sing-a-long and entirely bought into the eclectic group of six amateurs readying to take on the whole cast of The Pirates of Penzance. With vocal talents that match up to the expected high standard of Opera della Luna, all of the cast embody their assorted parishoner characters, and are individually funny and engaging while working as a small ensemble entirely seemlessly.
In Act 2 we witness their production, madcap and fast-paced, with costume changes galore. Not quite enough remains of the original characters however to maintain the level of comedy, and although admirably done, some elements strike as slightly too professional to believably be a church hall production. All the costumes are far too good, and cover too much of the characterisation that was so ably generated through Act 1. Perhaps Tracy should have kept her Goth style make-up, and Mr Prickett his greasy fringe? Saying that however, there are some moments when all falls back into place - a forgotten costume change, Mr Prendergast appearing as Kate, the Policemen's song - when the silliness is renewed and chaos reigns again.
An almost cult comedy gem in Opera della Luna's repertoire, this is an evening of affectionate spoof that has to be a must see for fans of G&S.