Church Hill Theatre
19:30 (sat-mat 14:30)
South pacific is a perennial favorite on both of sides of the Atlantic & beyond. There’s something just so vibrant about Rodgers & Hammerstein’s clever mix of tales drawn from JA Michener’s pulitzer-winning ‘Tales of the South Pacific (1947),’ to which is added some heart-leapingly catchy numbers such as ‘Happy Talk‘ & ‘Gonna wash that man right outta my hair.‘ The chief plot concerns a nurse, stationed on an unknown island during WW”, who falls in love with a French plantation owner. Her shock on discovering he had had two children to a Polynesian woman leads to an exploration of mid-twentieth century inter-racial relationships, which lead to a progressive & happy ending.
Beginning on Broadway, & teleported in glorious technicolor around the world in 1958, it has landed in Edinburgh’s Church Hill Theatre to what I would a great acclaim. Its performers last night were members of the Edinburgh Gilbert & Sullivan Society, whose deviation from their normal muse is summed up the society’s president, Ian Lawson, who told the Mumble, ‘South Pacific is one of many examples of how the influence of G&S has spread over oceans & decades.’
From the deft touch of the orchestra to the timing of the comic delivery, from the prettily-polished accents to the wonderful singing of its leading members, the EGSS should be damn proud of themselves. The lads were all lovely & rumbustious, while the women were all, well, lovely. Stand-out performances came through Caroline Kerr’s Bloody Mary, a witty take on the part, whose sub-plot of her daughter Liat’s young love for her GI (Joseph Cable) was touching to see. David Mutch was also excellent as Emile de Becque, whose deep-crooned ‘Some Enchanted Evening‘ was ringing round my head even when I awoke this morning.
I really enjoy a quality amdram show, for they bring a touch of humanity to the parts & the choreography, a far-cry from the staid professionalism of over-practiced works. South Pacific is about real people living out real situations, & therefore the EGSS gave us a very real performance – & one of the highest standard.
Reviewer : Damo Bullen