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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 19, 2008 @ 10:52 am

    Reviews: Iolanthe – NCH, Dublin

    Fiona McCann

    In Dublin, and perhaps elsewhere, nobody produces the Gilbert and Sullivan canon as splendidly as the Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society. A sweeping endorsement, of course, but the evidence is to hand in the version of Iolanthe now gracing the NCH stage. It is altogether delicious.

    The potty plot soon turns into a satire on the British House of Lords, overlapped with an amusing foray into the battle of the sexes. Iolanthe (Rachel Kelly) was banished 25 years ago for marrying a mortal, and has an understandably mixed-up son Strephon (John-Owen Miley-Read, a special bass). He yearns for a mortal too, but his Phyllis (Sarah Guilmartin) is admired and courted by numerous peers. She sees him in Iolanthe’s arms and jumps to a wrong conclusion, since fairies don’t age.

    It’s all a merry mess, sustained by the liveliest of musical scores and a clever script. The action is studded with melodies and comic set-pieces tumbling over each other.

    Phyllis and Strephon sing of their love in None Shall Part Us From Each Other , and the Fairy Queen (Jackie Curran-Olohan) makes an early appearance, signalling a weakness for romance. Later she ups the ante when Private Willis (Benjamin Russell), a palace sentry, comes on to be told, in low tones of undisguised lust, “You are a very fine fellow”.

    The Lord Chancellor (Adam Lawlor) steals the show more than once, in the number When I Went to the Bar and others. He joins the two pixillated peers Lords Tolloller and Mountararat (Brian Gilligan and Michael Clark) in the hilarious If You Go In You’re Sure To Win , and is given a solo spot for curtain applause. But the entire cast deserve their ovations, served up in unstinted measure. – GERRY COLGAN

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