Barons Court Theatre's Ruddigore Will Put a Smile on Your Face

Penny Flood is charmed by Gilbert & Sullivan's tale of love, loss and ghosts

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If you’re a fan of Gilbert & Sullivan, you'll love this. If you're not a fan or have never seen any of their work then give this a go. I defy you to leave without a smile on your face!

The eleventh of the G&S comic operettas, it's the daftest and arguably the funniest. This charming production does it proud, with a smashing cast of singers and dancers who give it their all, and seem to be really enjoying themselves.

As is usual with G&S, it's a witty satire on life in Victorian England. This one's about sex and snobbery at the seaside, with  lovelorn bachelors, optimistic maidens, out of work bridesmaids, mixed up identities, and a sailor with an eye for a pretty girl. In fact things get so mixed up that it takes a supernatural intervention to  help sort them out.

It opens with a troupe of contract bridesmaids (Jennie Jacobs, Isabelle Paige, Rachel Dreese, Eleanor Janes) bemoaning their lot - there hasn’t been a wedding for ages and the money's running out. But life in the village is about to get a lot more fun.

The main story is of the Murgatroyd boys who have inherited an ancient curse – they have to commit a crime every day, which makes it difficult to find girl friends. Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd (David Jones) fakes his own death and hides out in a Cornish village under the name of Robin Oakapple but  his fate catches up with him in the shape of his brother Despard (Williams Remmers).

His true identity is revealed and he has to take on the curse. This reduces his opportunities with his girlfriend, the lovely Rose Maybud (Lila Palmer)  who falls for sailor Richard Dauntless (Samuel Wright). Richard happens to be Robin's step-brother and this brings  on all sorts of complex plot twists.

Robin is supported by his loyal servant, Adam ( George Bryan). George is also a terrific pianist and provides the all the music for the whole show. This means he doesn't take part in the on-stage action so he makes wry one-liners and grimaces whenever he doesn't approve, which is quite frequently.

Despard has come to the village because he's looking for love. He's not the only one, it's popping up all over the place. But this is G&S so nothing is straightforward and confusion abounds, a situation which can only be sorted out with the arrival of a couple of ghosts ,  Sir Roderic Murgatroyd (Roland Harrad) and Sir Rupert Murgatroyd (Aneurin Pascoe) who turn up to talk a bit sense. 

And of course it all comes right in the end, although they have to bring someone back from the dead to make it happen.

Ruddigore isn't put on as often as the two G&S stalwarts, The Mikado and The Pirates of Penzance so this is a great opportunity to see it in a very classy production on your own doorstep.  You'll kick yourself if you miss it

Ruddigore continues till July 12. Tickets available online or call the box office on 020 8932 4747.

Barons Court Theatre is at the Curtain's Up pub in Comeragh Road, W14.

July 8, 2015