EDGAS: The Gondoliers at Festival Theatre Edinburgh Review

Celebrating 100 years of EDGAS (Edinburgh Gilbert and Sullivan Society) with their tremendous tongue twisting and speedy lines in The Gondoliers. The Duke of Plaza-Toro (Ian Lawson) stole my heart! I overheard many others commenting ‘Ian Lawson is just superb, amazing’! A proud, hen-pecked, and penniless grandee of Spain owned his role and sung the most wonderful catchy rhymes that made me smile and giggle.

The Synopsis:
Two infants at the age of six months are married by proxy; the infant boy is the son and heir of a reigning monarch. The beautiful Casilda, daughter of the Duke of Plaza-Toro grows up not knowing of this betrothal.

Complications arise when Don Alhambra, Grand Inquisitor, had caused the infant husband to be stolen and brought to Venice due to some trouble in the Royal household. The infant was placed in care with a reliable gondolier, who had a son around the same age. They were both brought up in the humble calling of gondoliers, but no one knows who the heir is.

The Duke, Duchess and Casilda who is now grown-up travel to Venice to seek the Royal husband. Casilda is not happy as she is in love with Luiz, their ‘suite’. She is now in the position of being married to one of the gondoliers.

Further mishap awaits when they learn that the gondoliers, Marco and Guiseppe have just married two charming ladies, Gianetta, and Tessa. Marco and Giuseppe are told the country is in a state of insurrection and must assume reins of government at once. Because no one knows who the real king is they must be as one person and reign together.

Don Alhambra is seeking the foster-mother (nanny) who can resolve the situation and reveal the identity of the real king.

I give credit to those who were in the orchestra as they accompanied the singers through the show. The music through the show is toe tapping and brings everything together. Also, Peter Cushley as Luiz with his drum; he was hilarious putting his point across.

Costume design by Utopia Costumes, Forfar are gorgeous. Although they suited the era of the misfortunate tale, they also had humour in them. Especially the extremely wide skirts of Casilda and the Duchess; when Casilda had to sit on the throne, the skirt billowed everywhere. The colours are bright, sunny, and eye-catching as much as the tunes our ears.

The one disappointment, which may eventually be released by EDGAS online was their updated song towards the end of the show; it included present day political and royal players in the most fun way. Oh, I wish I could hear it again, it was clever, funny, and even truthful!

The Gondoliers is an evening filled with fun, catchy songs, and often surprises that are not expected. Definitely the best way to introduce opera to a younger audience to keep it alive for the future. EDGAS may have been around 100 years, however, with their charming performance I see it continuing into the future for many years more.

Rating: 4.5/5
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh: Thur 9 to Sat 11 May 2024
Tickets: Standard £20 – £28.50 Children £10

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