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Review: Ruddigore, West Norfolk Gilbert and Sullivan Society

The opening night of WNGSS's latest production at the Guildhall in Lynn took us into a place of bad baronets, melodrama and gothic misdeeds with the tale of Ruddigore.

Set in a typical G&S world of rural never-never, this time in Gilbert's favourite spot by the sea in Cornwall, it is a drama of love (of course), betrayal, curses, and ghosts.

The first act is familiar G&S country as paid bridesmaids trail around the village in desperate hope of finding a bridge and groom to match (and so keep alive their living). In particular they hope to bring together the beauty of the village Rose Maybud (Ellie Hiam) and farmer Robin Oakapple (Ian Gooda).

Ruddigore, Bridesmaids and Sir Despart (John Torr) (28578600)
Ruddigore, Bridesmaids and Sir Despart (John Torr) (28578600)

But Robin has a secret. He is really Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd of the cursed Murgatroyd baronetcy. He has faked his death 10 years' previously to escape the title and the curse eaving his brother Despard (John Torr) to shoulder the misery of having to commit a crime every day to escape dying in agony.

The second act takes a darker, more sombre turn as following betrayal by his erstwhile friend Richard Dauntless (Andy Hiles), who hopes to win over Rose in his stead, Ruthven/Robin becomes baronet and is faced with the ghosts of his ancestors.

But as usual in WS Gilbert's topsy-turvey world, it all ends happily.

I Know A Youth, a duet between Rose and Robin, was an early highlight and I Once Was A Very, sung by Sir Despart and his love interest 'Mad' Margaret (Denise Bridge) excellent.

The production seemed a little static at times but that can't take away from the performaces with Ian Gooda showing he is a fine comic actor who even embraced his Canadian heritage proudly despite him playing a Cornishman!

And Ellie Hiam was outstanding as Rose. A great voice that really led the whole production.

Others appearing included Julie Bjerregaard as Dame Hannah and Steve Scales as Adam Goodheart.

Ruddigore is not in the first rank of G&S operettas, I think. But WNGSS made a pretty fair fist of it. Well done.

The show is on tonight and tomorrow at 7.30pm with a matinee tomorrow at 2.30pm

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