Brighton Fringe: The Pirates Of Penzance – Rebooted, The Barn, Southwick, until Saturday, call 01273 917272

The original Pirates Of Penzance in 1879 cobbled together Gilbert’s Bab Ballads with Irish Sullivan’s pastiche opera, military bands and hymn tunes. Into the mix went topical reference, gentle satire and much nonsense about duty.

The Victorians loved it, as have generations since, and a faithful audience knows the words – and D’Oyly Carte stage business – by heart.

But a work of true genius transcends its time. Papp’s 1980 Broadway version with swash, buckle and synthesisers set a new scene and The City Theatre Company’s Pirates Of Penzance Rebooted picks up the lead.

Director Andy Stoner’s comical Pirates and bloomered Daughters strut their stuff to an updated score arranged by Ellen Campbell. Hilarious pop culture references and subtly altered rhythms change Sullivan more than Gilbert, whose libretto remains mostly intact.

Kenneth Mark Yexley is terrific as an entire police force, as is Dave Villers as a monocled Major General on speed. Frederick is charming, Ruth is not plain, Mabel is properly forward and Paul Fish becomes a most respectable Pirate King.

The beamed Barn Theatre was inverted to become a pirate ship and us landlubbers sat under sailcloth and had a wonderful time.


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