Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

Utopia Limited

Gilbert & Sullivan
Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company
Buxton Opera House
19 August 2011 to 20 August 2011

IT should rank among the proudest achievements of Ian and Neil Smith and their Buxton Gilbert & Sullivan Festival that this year they brought Utopia Limited back to the stage – only the second time it has been fully revived by a professional company in this country since it was created back in the 1890s.

It’s certainly worth performing. Especially when the story has references to debt, company failures and editors of ‘scurrilous papers’ in England being ‘publicly flogged’!

It’s set in the South Pacific, and there’s an English governess for royal children (Jill Pert) almost out of The King And I, but the rest is thoroughly Gilbertian. The king of Utopia (Donald Maxwell) has an eldest daughter who’s been to Girton College,Cambridge, and returns with the benefits of British civilisation.

Princess Zara (Deborah Norman) brings with her a captain of the First Life Guards (Oliver White), plus a Lord Chamberlain (Barry White), naval captain (Stephen Godward), lawyer (Martin Milnes), county council official (Simon Theobald), and wide-boy company promoter (Bruce Graham).

Simon Butteriss, Ian Belsey and Richard Gauntlett were all in their element, too. With the lively direction it received from Andrew Nicklin, you had a thoroughly entertaining show. 

Reviewer: Robert Beale


Comment by Philip Radcliffe

Yes, this was a real achievement in the G&S Festival canon, enabling many enthusiasts I know to complete their personal goal of seeing all the operettas. So, I take my hat off, yet again, to the Smiths. As for the yarn and the production, I found the first half risible, but I did warm to it by the end.