The Pirates of Penzance

Cat-Like Tread makes a welcome post-Covid return to the Fringe with this ever-popular jolly romp, a Gilbert and Sullivan classic and a dashed good night out.

A jolly night with a most loveable and tune-rich G&S operetta

The Pirates of Penzance is the show that Cat-Like Tread, an Edinburgh-based Gilbert and Sullivan specialist group, brought to the Fringe in their debut performance, and it clearly continues to be a favourite both of the Company and their audiences. We meet Frederick amongst his pirate horde and learn that he is shortly to be free of them, able to marry the pretty Mabel whom he has met upon the beach, the daughter of a Major-General. But things go wrong and a medley of hopeless and madcap policemen cannot put them right. Until, that is, she whom no true Englishman can resist steps in…

Pirates sparkles with great show tunes such as Pirate King, I Am The Very Model, Tarantara and of course, Cat Like Tread from which the company take their name.

That self-same group is having wonderful fun in this production, singing the songs with gusto and acting all the oohs and aahs to the full. It is infectious, spreading across the large and appreciative audience to create a good humoured occasion. Scott Thomson marches into action as the Major-General, filling the part tremendously and more fully than he does his scanty nightgown. He is well supported by a string of leads that include the vocally elegant Peter Cushley as Frederic, Deboragh Turkalp as an Irish Ruth with a magnificent red bonnet, and Alex Gunn as a dynamic Pirate King. Rebekah Lansley has lost her voice and so mimes the part of Mabel while Claire Turnbull sings the part quite divinely from the wings. This is not an easy situation, and the two should be congratulated on making it all work seamlessly.

The show is performed without any set, and this lays down the challenge to the company to carry the story through their acting, singing and dancing, a challenge they rise to well. Singing is entirely natural and without mics, with the voices mostly carrying well. The choreography is fairly simple but enthusiastically delivered by the company, and it does the job within a sound performance of the show.

All in all, a jolly night with a most loveable and tune-rich G&S operetta.

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Reviews by Ben Ludlow

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Performances

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The Blurb

Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera, The Pirates of Penzance, is a rollicking tale of pirates, policemen and poor young orphans. Misadventures in love, thrilling chases, devotion to the queen and, above all, a strong sense of duty make this an exciting show perfect for audiences of all ages. A musical delight from an energetic cast, the entertaining characters and memorable songs will have you smiling and humming for days. Cat-Like Tread is an Edinburgh-based theatre company with a love of Gilbert and Sullivan that is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023.

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