October 17 – October 22, 2006
Director: Richard Trevaskis
Musical Director: Alan McKie
Starring: Dennis Olsen
Lovesick maidens have rejected their worldly Dragoons and trail the aesthetic poet Bunthorne, who spurns them for Patience the milkmaid, who in turn spurns him for another aesthetic poet Grosvenor. The outraged military men go to great lengths to win their ladies back. A sudden reform by both poets solves everyone's problems, everyone but one, that is....
The skates have been on at the Gilbert & Sullivan Society – and the season of Patience is on a week early, thanks to a glitsch in dates.
The handsome production just goes to show how troupers can shine under pressure. It's another G&S gem. Alan McKie leads a glorious orchestra beneath a Beardsley-esque stage whereupon the lovesick maidens loll in elegantly appliqued costumes. If the staging is class, the cast is yet more so with the star presence of Dennis Olsen – lithe, light-footed, rich-voiced and a joy of comic nuance. Hot on his heels is the very tall rising talent of Paul Talbot as the other aesthete, an adorable picture of vanity and a nice tenor, too.
Samantha Rogers, with a clear soprano voice, slips without affectation into the role of milkmaid Patience while Bev Shehan throws forth the flourish and mellow mezzo voice as the dire Lady Jane. All around are rapturous maidens and Dragoon Guards – colour, movement, lovely singing and lots of fun, expertly directed by Richard Trevaskis. Barbara Turner, Marsha Seebohm, Megan Doherty, Ian Muster, Timothy Ide and Norbert Hohl provide strong support – as does the inimitable Larraine Wheeler with the lighting. Catch it if you can.
– Samela Harris
The Adelaide Theatre Guide 21/10/06
I always thought that what chicks really wanted in a bloke was someone who could open a stubborn jar, kill a snake and know all the words to “Khe Sanh”. How wrong I was. In the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of South Australia’s production of “Patience”, all a gal wants is a languorous artiste type wearing a green velveteen jumpsuit. If only I’d known that, I could have saved myself a lot of heartache and at least two marriages.
Reginald Bunthorne is a wan, effete poet, who has undeservedly caught the attention of twenty of the local lovesick maidens. They hang on his every word and compete for his love. But the poetic aesthete is an act. All Bunthorne wants is the love of the dairy maid Patience.
“Patience” suffers from not being one of the G & S big guns: “The Pirates of Penzance”, “The Mikado or “HMS Pinafore”. The plot is gossamer-thin, even for Gilbert & Sullivan’s usual fare. (They weren’t the John Pilgers of their day.) The songs are not readily recognizable G & S hits.
However, director Richard Trevaskis and musical director Alan McKie have crafted an enjoyable, breezy, and, at times, extremely funny production.
There are some stand-out performances. The venerable Dennis Olsen as Bunthorne conducts a master-class in G & S patter: part Quentin Crisp, part Robert Helpmann with a dash of the Goons, his voice is rich and hits the back of the stalls, his self-conscious prat-falling hilarious and his sense of mannered comedy impeccable.
But Olsen is not the only star; he is ably supported by Bev Shean (The Lady Jane) and Paul Talbot (Archibald Grosvenor). Shean glides across the stage with imperious vigour. She has a fine voice as well as an experienced eye for idiocy. Her pathetic bombast is a delight to watch. Grosvenor, foppish, narcissistic and dressed in a truly awful shade of deep lavender, is wonderful. He, too, sings beautifully and his comic timing is flawless. Grosvenor’s ridiculous gavotte with Olsen in the second act is a highlight of this production.
Samantha Rogers as Patience has a true, bell-like voice but struggles with her portrayal of the title role. It is a difficult character to play as Patience essentially reflects the desires of others and does little herself, but Rogers fails to tap into the doe-eyed, earnest silliness which makes Patience believable.
The chorus work is uniformly good and they are costumed impressively.
It is worth noting that this production has had to cope with a last-minute change of dates, which meant shuffling the cast to a degree. The very minor creaks and bumps of opening night can be put down to being slightly under-done, which will right themselves as the season progresses. A rewarding night out for all G & S fans.
Review by John Wells