The all Male H.M.S Pinafore is currently on UK tour and I managed to catch up with the show at The Hackney Empire. The Hackney Empire is a beautiful ornate theatre and I would highly recommend that you see a show there.
Shows that are solely cast with one gender do not come around often and it was good to see a strong all male cast.
The H.M.S Pinafore is a show set upon a naval ship and originally graced the stage in 1878. Consider it a comedic opera more than a fully fledged musical. The premise of the show is that The Captain of the ships daughter – Josephine, who is set to marry a well off gentleman Sir Joseph Porter, falls in love with a low level ranked officer Ralph Rackstraw. The daughter Josephine initially abides by her father’s wishes, but eventually their love prevails and Josephine and Rackshaw declare their love and set to elope. Through this all manner of humour breaks out..
One of the really clever elements to this show is how certain cast members transition from male shipmates to the female family and friends of Sir Joseph Porter. Achieved through simply adding and removing little pieces of costume some members of the ensemble effortless changed to the flamboyant and tenor singing ladies.
Josephine was played by Ben Irish who has played the role on the previous UK tour of H.M.S Pinafore. He had a subtle elegance to his stage presence and with only a few alteration to his costume he portrays and carriers the role of the female lead with ease. His vocals were strong, high and consistent throughout the show, a very demanding role for a male performer but he did it effortlessly.
Other notable mentions go to Neil Moors as Captain Corcoran and Richard Russell Edwards as Hebe. Moor was cheeky and charming as the Captain of the ship and his opening song “I am the Captain of Pinafore” was hilarious and with a slight legally blonde whipped into shape fashion. Edwards has played the role before at the Union theatre where he won the 2013 Craig Dodd prize for best actor in a featured role. He had the audience laughing from the moment he donned his headdress. He had great comedic characterising and energy throughout the show.
The set and costume were both simple but effective which will also make it a very easy show to tour. Three double bunks and an array of props were cleverly used to help set the confines of a ship and also help to change the scene to keep the story moving.
It took a while for the show to warm up for me but by the end of it the audience were loving it. This is only a little note but It was a shame that the programme didn’t reflect the professionalism of the show due to its lack of formatting.
You can also find my review on www.remotegoat.com