Review: Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore

 

“When it’s true love, there’s no such thing as inappropriate!”
Directed by Jenny Jones and Claire Smith, The University of York’s G&S society successfully brings a beautiful tale of love and betrayal to Central Hall from 26-28th February 2016.

A modern retake on Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera produced in the late 19th century had the audience laughing and applauding. As talented as professionals, their large cast and astounding orchestra made the performance a joyful experience.

Set in a community-oriented Cornish village, the innocent maiden Rose Maybud (Hannah Cross) intends to find herself a husband. And she doesn’t want just any man; she wants Robin Oakapple (Chris Murphy), who’s shy and affectionate personality the audience grow to love. But when Richard Dauntless (Jake Taylor), an unashamed ladies man, tries to steal Rose’s heart, Oakapple finds it difficult to maintain the ‘nice guy’ approach. Falling for eager-to-marry Maybud, he goes to merciless depths to make her his own. Especially impressive is the set of the play, which literally comes to life with ghostly, harmonising portraits and relationships between the dead and the living.

Especially impressive is the set of the play, which literally comes to life with ghostly, harmonising portraits and relationships between the dead and the living.

A particular emphasis was placed on the woman’s necessity to find a husband. Though a comedy which ridicules social norms, at the time of its writing women were condemned if they had not married by their late 20’s. Cross’ portrayal of Maybud strongly contrasted with thaUntitled ruddigoret of Dame Hannah (Eleanor Dunsdon), which was particularly intriguing, as unlike Maybud, Dame Hannah was a happily independent woman who had submitted to maidenhood after losing her one true love. On the other hand, Rose Maybud was willing to settle for whomever would take her hand in marriage, making the audience ponder which of these is more desirable.
Another significant theme was that of betrayal. The way in which different characters reacted towards being betrayed clearly depended on their personality and environment. Aggressive Sir Despard Murgatroyd (Stefan Grant) retaliated remorselessly when he was betrayed by his own brother. However, Oakapple reacted forgivingly when he was betrayed by his best friend. With the Witch’s curse of living a life of crime or death in agony, many characters were doomed to live a lonely life until timid and underestimated Oakapple makes a change.

Although set over 100 years ago and in places slightly long-winded, G&S society’s performance was highly enjoyable, reflecting real-life themes of today’s culture.

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