The Pirates Of Penzance
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

This version of the venerated Gilbert and Sullivan operetta originated through Joe Papp and New York's Central Park. It was an immediate success there so, after Broadway, West End and film productions, it has returned to a park theatre.

And on fine nights a magical theatre it is too - a natural amphitheatre surrounded by trees with the stage shining hypnotically in the dusk. A total delight.

This souped-up and modernised adaptation, which uses material from the writers' other shows and even an Elvis impression, has been completely re-cast by director Ian Talbot.

A shaven-headed Gary Wilmot as the Pirate King and Su Pollard playing a man-chasing old maid give the performance a distinct pantomime feel. There is even a song sheet with a split singalong audience and a hilarious squad of dancing Keystone Cops.

Since the colourful pirates are all spineless bravado, ever ready to spare orphans, any cops versus buccaneers fighting is of the knockabout variety.

Aside from Wilmot and Pollard, there are three other stand-out roles. David Alder as a blimpish major-general scores with his contribution, Joshua Dallas does nicely as the reformed pirate turned hero and best of all is Karen Evans as his romantic target.

Her voice soars higher than the mainmast - clearly a girl with a future. Although relatively unknown, she is a natural lead for musicals.

Compliments also to Giles Taylor and his gang of feeble cops, the men sailing under the Jolly Roger and the four young ladies in crinoline.

James Green

The Stage
September 2001