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Review, Patience, West Norfolk Gilbert & Sullivan Society

I begin by confessing I’ve never seen a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience, or even heard a recording, so I relished the opportunity to get to know the piece in this fun production presented by the West Norfolk Gilbert and Sullivan Society in its 65th year.

Patience cast (6915017)
Patience cast (6915017)

Right from the start, recognising a couple of melodies in the Overture, I suspected I was in for an enjoyable evening’s entertainment, and that certainly proved to be the case.

Patience or Bunthorne’s Bride, was first produced in 1881 at the Savoy Theatre and, interestingly, was the first operetta to be performed entirely lit by electric light.

It’s been performed four times before by the West Norfolk Society and, although not one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s very finest works, in my view, and despite a slightly laboured plot, there’s plenty of fine, catchy, musical numbers and enjoyable comic episodes to savour.

The satirical plot targets the excesses of the aestheticism movement of the time, with it’s ‘arty’ pretensions, and the connections it had with such as the notorious Oscar Wilde and the Pre-Raphaelites.

The story concerns the attempts of the Military Dragoons, led by the Duke of Dunstable (played with appropriate command by Desmond Holmes), to woo the chorus of single maidens, but their affections are drawn exclusively to the two rival ‘aesthetic’ poets Reginald Bunthorne and Archibald Grosvenor.

In turn, the poets are only interested in winning the hand of local dairy maid Patience.

Needless to say everything works out well in the end except for one principal character who is left alone and isolated.

As always there’s not room enough here to give everyone a mention, but praise should be showered on Sharon Cutworth for standing in at very short notice to cover Denise Bridge’s regrettable indisposition; her performance was delivered with confidence and charm and a clear welcome Scottish accent!

Julie Bjerregaard as The Lady Jane gave much pleasure in her comic role and the two poets were played by Anil Chakrabarti and Andy Masterson, both in fine voice, and with all their exaggerated comic business discharged with great aplomb.

I especially enjoyed the musical numbers in the show’s second half, (clever and catchy), and thank director, cast, chorus, orchestra, all those behind the scenes, supporters and sponsors for enabling me to get to know this piece and enjoy the evening. Patience was conducted with enthusiasm by John T Smith.

Andy Tyler.

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