April 5th, 2009

storyteller doll

Iolanthe

Since there's no episode of The Amazing Race this week, I have time to do a little catching up on various odds and ends. The most critical is finishing my taxes, now that I've actually located all the info I need. In general, I'm behind on household paperwork, partly because of cleaning for Pesach and partly out of sheer laziness.

I'll also note that my love / hate relationship with freecycle is continuing. Yet again, I've had people email about how eager they are for something and then not get back to me after I give them my phone number to get directions and arrange a time for pickup.

But does that stop me from going out and doing things? Yesterday, I went to see the Washington Savoyard's production of Iolanthe at the Atlas performing Arts Center. I hadn't actually been to H Street NE before, which is claimed to be the hot neighborhood these days. It's not particularly convenient, since it's a bit over a mile walk from the nearest metro. (There is bus service, but it was a nice day.) Part of the way still feels pretty dicey and I would not be comfortable making the walk after dark. But the theatre itself is beautiful and quite comfortable.

I discovered when I got the program that they had set the show in 1968 and were trying to use the peers as a symbol of the establishment with the faeries as the counterculture. Normally, that sort of thing would make me run. Fortunately, with one exception, they left the material pretty much alone, with just costumes to suggest the era. Phyllis spends the first act in jodhpurs and the second in a remarkably unattractive blue plaid dress. The peers make out better with blue sweater vests, though being dressed for a cricket match while singing "Loudly Let the Trumpets Bray" is a bit jarring. The faeries are nicely colorful and, mercifully, lack wings. The exception was an "updating" of "Oh, Foolish Fay," which even included a particularly unreasonable anachronism ("Oh, Obama") given that he was a child in 1968.

But, as I said, they mostly played it straight - or as straight as one can play Gilbert and Sullivan. I've always had a particular fondness for this operetta, due to my bias in favor of political satire. "When Britain really Ruled the Waves" is as brilliant as ever, for example. There are plenty of lovely G&S melodies, too, and they were sung well. Annie Gill as Phyllis did a particularly good job. And I liked Ronnie Hardcastle's rendition f "Spurn Not the Nobly Born" (as Lord Tolloller).

The true scene stealer was Jase Parker as the Lord Chancellor. I thought he overdid it at times, but it's the sort of role that allows for that. His comic timing was right on the mark, especially in "Love, Unrequited, Robs Me of My Rest" (the nightmare song).

Normally, I'd recommend you go out and see this, but today was closing day. So you will just have to wait (like me) for the next Savoyards production.