Scottish Opera: The Mikado (3 stars)

Scottish Opera: The Mikado

This take on Gilbert and Sullivan's classic looks beautiful, but needs some settling in

With no fewer than 38 performances in eight different theatres, Scottish Opera’s latest foray into Gilbert and Sullivan will no doubt become zippier in energy and lighter on its feet as the run progresses than in opening week at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal. Two nights in and the company’s new production of The Mikado, in collaboration with the historic D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, didn’t feel completely at ease with itself.

It is certainly a lovely show to look at, beautifully lit and with some stunning costumes. But, from the matter-of-fact expose of Sullivan’s main musical themes in the opening orchestral overture – accompanied by a bemusing mime of The Lord High Executioner chopping off a head in a circus act gone wrong – through to an unevenness of characterisation on stage, there’s some settling needed before Gilbert’s witty wordsmithing fully hits its mark under Martin Lloyd-Evans’ direction.

It’s a totally ridiculous, contrived tale, of course, with Nicholas Sharratt as Nanki-Poo and Rebecca Bottone as love-of-his-life Yum Yum making a delightful pairing as the central couple, notwithstanding a couple of wobbly moments from the latter. Pish-Tush, in the hands of Ben McAteer, is kindly tongue in cheek with his camp-ish version of Japanese nobility. It is, however, Richard Suart’s Ko-Ko, the bizarrely appointed Lord High Commissioner, who steers the show through its comic paces. A part that is clearly under his skin, memorable moments have got to be his hilarious lyrics in the politically up-to-date ‘little list’ number and his all singing, all wing-flapping bird accomplice in the famous Tit Willow song.

There’s plenty for the chorus to do, and while the men are sounding good but looking a bit buttoned up, the women are in excellent vocal form and generally seem as if they are enjoying themselves.

Reviewed at Theatre Royal, Glasgow.

Scottish Opera: The Mikado

'Besides, I don't see how a man can cut off his own head.' 'A man might try.' 'Even if you only succeeded in cutting it half off, that would be something.' If Oscar Wilde had written the screenplay for Saw, it still wouldn't have been as good as Gilbert & Sullivan's subversive masterpiece, the funniest comedy about…