The Mikado

“It’s an unjust world, and virtue is triumphant only in theatrical performances.”

W.S. Gilbert

In the interests of full disclosure, I should probably point out that this particular production of The Mikado, presented by my university’s Gilbert and Sullivan Society, featured both Historian Friend and Biology Friend in the chorus, so, you know, I might be a little biased.

The Mikado, possibly Gilbert and Sullivan’s most famous operetta (save perhaps The Pirates of Penzance), is set on a Japanese island where flirting is a capital crime. (What? It’s Gilbert and Sullivan, it doesn’t have to make sense.) There’s a random guy in disguise who likes the Lord High Executioner’s fiance, while the Lord High Executioner needs to find someone to execute, or be executed himself. Cue all the usual hilarious G&S antics: despotic emperors, bizarre marriage contracts, hidden princes and, of course, a charmingly, cheesily happy ending. (I refuse to believe that this is a spoiler. What else could you expect from Gilbert and Sullivan?) And lots of singing.

For a student production, this was actually very good. All the people could sing! And act! And do both at the same time! It was practically a miracle. It helps that The Mikado is certainly funny: boldly-drawn caricatures (which were hammed up perfectly, by the way), utterly ridiculous situations and one-liners, and an extremely amusing song called “I’ve Got A Little List” which had been rewritten by a student with too much time on their hands to offend practically everyone in the audience, including evangelists, atheists, student politicians, student journalists and many others who I cannot at present remember.

It was all fantastically unlikely, hilariously cheesy and, all things considered, a very pleasant way to spend the evening. Huzzah for Gilbert and Sullivan!


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