This was the first live performance of the The Mikado that I have seen (I have a vague recollection of seeing it on television) and it was much better than what you would normally expect from a local theatre production. The set and costuming were lavish, and most of the performances by the main characters were spirited and engaging. My uncle has seen four productions of The Mikado and this was his favourite.
The Mikado really struck me as a product of its time, as it seems very reactionary to the political and social environment in which it was written. I could almost imagine these Victoria era gentlemen sitting down to write something that would appeal to theatre-goers: We should make fun of rampant corruption… that Japonisme is so hot right now… it has to be a romp! It’s a little surprising to me that such populist reactionary work is still adapted and performed today.
Like many modern productions of Gilbert & Sullivan’s work, this production updated the political and social commentary to reflect contemporary Australia. This included references to state and federal politics as well as a number of brief caricatures of public figures. The more universal jokes were carried over from the original work, and I particularly liked the few that were fairly self-satirising. Such as when the crowd cheers:
Ko-Ko: Congratulate me gentlemen, I’ve found a volunteer.
The People of Titi Pu: The Japanese equivalent of hear hear hear!
If anyone is keen to see this Gilbert and Sullivan Society WA production of The Mikado, there is an evening performance tonight (Friday 29 September) and matinee and evening performances tomorrow (Saturday 30 September). Tickets are available from BOCS or at the venue. Also, a friend informs me that tickets are 2-for-1 if you buy them on the same day as the performance you want to attend.