She Who Must Be Taken Out In Public Every Now And Then, Or She Gets Grumpy and I were treated to a performance of the Mikado last night at His Majesty’s Theatre, in sunny Aberdeen. Now, there was a time – way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and people weren’t sick of that bloody ‘deele-dee-dle-deee’ mobile phone ring – that She Who Must had tread those very boards in that very show. And before that, I’d done the show too (back when one was single*), and long, long before that Mine Father was also in the damn thing. I mention my father as he was the one who’d kindly bought the tickets. In fact, out of the four of us in attendance, the only person who’d never done the bloody show was my mother. But I digress...
Gilbert and Sullivan are kind of an acquired taste. A good production is funny, well sung and entertaining. A crap production is enough to make you want to eat your theatre seats then throw them up, all over the cast. This was a good one – which is just as well, as the seats in HMT taste terrible.
One of my favourite bits of the Mikado has to be the ‘entrance of the schoolgirls’, but not for pervy, or artistic reasons. According to the lyrics the silf-like nubile young Japanese ladies scurrying about giving it laldy with the close harmonics are, and I quote: “Schoolgirls we, eighteen and under...” OK, have you got a mental picture of that in your head? Good. Now populate that image with middle-aged ladies of various sizes, belting it out like they were doing their damnedest to rupture an internal organ. That’s what it’s actually like.
Still, at least with this production they contrived to hide the over fifties in the back row of the chorus. Even the one who looked like Mavis from Crossroads. I once saw a group put on the Mikado, and every single last one of their schoolgirls could have qualified for a bus pass. I laughed and laughed and laughed... They couldn’t hear me though, not with their hearing aids switched off. Ahem.
But the singing last night was generally very good, if a bit muffled and lacking in bite, though this might have been due to the conductor going hell-for-leather the whole way through. I’m guessing he was on a promise that night and didn’t want to be late. That or he had some form of distressing problem with his bowels and couldn’t afford to hang around for too long. Just in case the first act ended up with an unscheduled extra movement.
Despite this clenched-buttock hurrying the orchestra was cracking – the comedy came across really well, the bloke playing Ko-Ko was very, very good, and we didn’t have to queue for six and a half years at the interval to get a gin and tonic. Result! They’ve recently revamped the theatre*** and you can now have a pee AND a drink in the interval. Before it was one or the other. If you were lucky. Now it's both - how cool is that? An evening of laughs, music, gin, piddling, and middle-aged schoolgirls****.
All together now: "Three little maids from school are we..."
* If any of you are looking to pick up nice ladies**, may I wholeheartedly recommend joining an amateur dramatic society. Especially ones that do musicals. They’re always packed with female-type women and desperate for men. The societies, not the women. Well, maybe some of them... Er... I think I’ll stop this footnote before I get into any more trouble.
** If you're looking to pick up nasty young ladies, I'm afraid I can't help you.
*** They’ve added this big glass thing on the side that acts as an additional main entrance to the theatre, so you’ve got no idea where you’re supposed to be meeting people. But while we were wandering round like the souls of the damned, Fiona bumped into someone she used to got to school with in Fife. Who, it turns out, now works just around the corner in the same industrial estate as She Who Must. Small world.
**** NOT all at the same time, before anyone gets any ideas.