Illyria’s 2018 outdoor theatre season has got under way and so we headed to the picturesque lakeside setting of Storrs Hall Hotel in Windermere for a performance of The Pirates of Penzance.
We picked a spot on the grass and unfurled our picnic rug ready for the performance, whilst pirates bustled around hawking their wares (well, programmes).
The weather was perfect and the rest of the audience looked pretty settled in with comfy chairs, mini tables filled with plastic glasses of wine, and nibbles at the ready. The stage was set.
This tongue in cheek Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera tells the story of young apprentice pirate Frederic, who, on turning 21, is about to leave his crew for a more moral career.
But there is a catch. He must serve with the pirates until his 21st birthday and as he was born in a leap year, on 29th February, he is in fact only 5 and a bit years old. So, it is agreed he must carry on serving the pirates until his actual 21st birthday.
Illyria’s outdoor production of The Pirates of Penzance sees a clever and minimalist set used to great and comic effect, as well as some quick costume changes from the small cast.
It opens with an energetic number and continues in a cheery whirl of songs, some of which are very familiar, even if you don’t know the play.
There’s a good speedy rendition of the Major General’s song, a little light interaction with the audience and a nice cameo from Death.
The production has plenty of silly moments with a little bit of satire thrown in.
If you like the sound of bearded ladies, and a pantomime-esque Queen Victoria, then Pirates is for you. It’s the perfect play for a lazy summer afternoon or evening outdoors – rather than a high-brow night out at the theatre – and is probably just what we all need at the moment.
You can catch Illyria’s production throughout July and August at some unusual locations, including Tonbridge Castle, The Temple at Wanstead Park, Chepstow Castle, Ryedale Folk Museum, Newstead Abbey, Tremenneere Gardens, Hatfield Forest, Lytham Hall, Gordon Castle Walled Garden and Drum Castle
More info: www.illyria.co.uk