The most popular in the G&S canon, The Mikado has been a crowd pleaser since its opening night in 1885. Gently mocking Britain, her institutions and leading figures of the day, its incisive wit and humour has stood the test of time. In contrast to the ‘Japanese attitude’ of traditional productions usually awash with colour and kimonos, Julia Rufey’s contemporary production was bang up to date with its modern dress and minimalist set.

Given the deep-seated affection many fans possess for G&S, this type of updating does not always appeal to the purists. Indeed, for every person who views it as a clever and pragmatic twist to help preserve the genre and resonate with new audiences, there is another who sees it as sacrilegious and unnecessary, taking away the inherent charm and piquancy of the Victorian original.

Being something of an old duffer myself, I confess that I rather missed the flurry and flourish of parasols and fans associated with traditional renditions. But, there can be no doubting that the production was coherent and well conceived; it really did ‘work’ as a show. What it lacked in frippery and spectacle was compensated for with a quality principal line up and some innovative characterisations.

With a twinkly, yet assuring presence Geoffrey Farrar created a memorable KoKo, with ‘the list’ updates nailing the zeitgeist of 21st Century Britain. As Pooh-Bah, Paul Hancock was a treat with his delicious vocals and his well honed sneer. Together with an endearingly fussy Pish-Tush (David Sutherland), their trio was well executed.

As the love interest, David Gwynne-Evans (Nanki-Poo) and Jennifer Carr (Yum-Yum) made a pretty pair, with Miss Carr’s warm, buttery voice complimenting Sullivan’s music. Well supported by Annaliese Farnsworth (Peep-Bo) and Sue O’Neill (Pitti-Sing), the giggly little maids were in sharp relief to Katherine Bunting’s leather-clad Katisha.

Miss Bunting looked and sounded imperious as she strode intimidatingly around the stage, while her voice was able to portray both vitriol and despair in equal measure. Together with the Mikado (Kevin Murray), they sparked off each other well, creating a strong partnership.

At a time when G&S and other ‘old-fashioned’ shows are becoming something of an endangered species, perhaps more contemporary re-imaginings of traditional productions are needed to ensure their long-term survival. As ably demonstrated by ALGSS, with courage and vision, fresh interpretations can work and, as an old duffer, even I am happy to concede on that point.

Michael Moor