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‘Sad and Sorry I Am Not’- A Review of Patience by G&S Society

When settling into the quaint, intimate Joseph Rowntree Theatre, I initially had my reservations with no idea what to expect. It was the first time I’d been asked to write a review, of a Gilbert and Sullivan play no less, and I was eager to approach it with the stereotype of a harsh critic, blasé towards anything I witnessed.

Nonetheless, I withheld my temptation and found this production to be very charming. It was a wonderful personal introduction to the playwrights. The opera ‘Patience’ surrounds the progression of two self-absorbed suitors attempting to charm the milk-maid Patience all whilst revelling in the attention of flower maidens obsessed with the idea of love. All while this is happening, the Duke of Dunstable and his group, the ‘Dragoons’ do their best efforts to woo the flower maidens, endlessly disappointed by their rejections. This opera effectively mocked the romance genre with plain, characterless heroines – Patience – all while satirising the aesthetic movement of the 1870s-1880s, where the obsession of Japanese art, self-indulgent poetry and appearance over matter flourished.
Each character was exaggerated to its extreme which was perfect for the mood of this play. The role of Patience was portrayed effectively by Helena Galley, whose soprano voice rang so clearly over the others and expressed a real sense of musical training and professionalism. The same could be said for Molly Raine, who played the role of the obnoxious Duke in a camp and hilarious manner. Adela Barrett’s booming voice and improvised quips fit effectively in the role of Lady Jane who could have easily become a rather forgettable character. However, her performance made her extremely memorable. Patience’s childhood sweetheard, the widely loved Archibald Grosvenor was accurately depicted by Ambroise Grau.

Picture credit: Joseph Rowntree Theatre

The singers gave their best efforts, their voices might still be under training however, this didn’t take away from the atmosphere of the play. If anything, it added to it.
The same could be said for the orchestra, who sometimes fell out of time with the stage singers. Having said that, as harsh as it may sound, this orchestral performance coincided with the disordered, rather silly mood that Gilbert and Sullivan, I assume, strove to achieve. Overall, knowing that a lot of these actors are not musically trained, I must recognise the great efforts of Sophia Razak, musical director.
Another special mention must go to Grace Stannard (‘Reginald Bunthorne’) who’s extravagant performance effectively parodied the character of a vain, vapid poet.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this performance. There was a wonderful flamboyance found in each actor with loud gestures and exaggerated expressions of drama. The absent-minded nature of ‘The Dragoons’ genuinely made me laugh out loud. Each individual role, no matter how small, was well played and together, brought such an amusing sense of helplessness and clumsiness. All in all, a real display of fantastic direction from Katie Leckey.

Written by Camille Orwin