Wednesday 24 August 2016

#edfringe2016: The Mikado - Cat-Like Tread ★★★★

Photos by Tom Paton, assisted ably by Scott Thomson and two very helpful prop masters.
Cat-like Tread loves Gilbert and Sullivan and they want to share their magical music world to everyone. Having produced sold out shows, including The Pirates of Penzance and H.M.S. Pinafore, they’ve arrived at Edinburgh Fringe and tickled audiences last night at Space Triplex with everyone’s favourite sing-along-opera The Mikado.

The enthusiastic troupe allowed Nanki-Poo to have his Yum-Yum, eventually. But it wasn’t easy - the drunken stag do and hen party seemed pretty brutal with not-so-pretty hangovers which followed shortly after.

The Mikado is pickle of a story. Nanki-Poo, the Mikado’s son, doesn’t want to marry Katisha, with her dashing elbows and shoulder blades, so he runs away pretending to be a second trombone and falls in love with Yum-Yum, who is already betrothed to the Lord High Executioner Ko-Ko. But Yum Yum doesn’t want to marry the Lord High Executioner and, sadly, she has no choice on the matter, which leaves Nanki-Poo feeling very suicidal. Then as The Mikado demands an execution to take place, as there hasn’t been many going on lately, (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but this is fiction, so it doesn’t matter) Ko-Ko chooses to execute Nanki-Poo seeing as he is willing to top himself. The real trouble begins when they all discover that Nanki-Poo is, in fact, the next ruler of Japan, but they have many laughing gags and dance routines before their execution, which never happens because it's a comedy opera!

Directors Rae Lamond and Sarah Whitty have worked hard getting their performers sharp and poised for this fast-paced show. Gillian Robertson is on the mark as musical director as she looks to skilled pianist Jamie Wilson, who performs the entire score, and the chorus of singers and soloists. 

Dance and movement choreographies are tight with sophisticated clapping formations between the ladies of the chorus and talented performer Scott Thomson, who plays Pooh-Bah The Lord High of Everything Other!

Nick Clelland and Anna Thomson give cutesy performances as the lovers. Clelland’s wandering minstrel is weedy, but he has a heart of gold for his true love and sings lyrically throughout. Thomson’s Yum Yum is a fiery minx in a karate outfit who needs her Nanki-Poo. Thomson is a talented singer, which is shown best in her performance in The Sun whose rays are all ablaze in the second act.

Matthew  Sielewicz’s Mikado seemed to have walked out of an 80s movie. His vocals were solid and rich, with Dougal Freir giving an awesome performance singing as Ko-Ko with his very up-to-date execution list – it was as if he wrote his list off the cuff on the day; he sung about 30-year-olds playing Pokemon Go, Brexit, piano organists and those annoying people on a detox, which was a major giggle fest.

Debora Ruiz-Kordova gives a standout performance as Katisha, singing impressively and giving her all into her own characterization of the middle-aged unwanted woman of the court. There were moments in her performance where I saw the Queen of the Night from Mozart’s Magic Flute.

The opera that parodies 19th century British politicians through all things kimono and Japanese is a brilliant show with witty music, which keeps you hooked, particularly if you enjoy tapping your shoes and singing along to some witty lines. Some favourites include Behold the Lord High Executioner and Tit Willow, Tit Willow, and Cat like Tread gives warm, glowing performances for such songs, and more.

Cat-Like Tread are showing The Mikado now to August 27th. Click here to purchase tickets.
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