Farndale Mikado
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The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate TWG Operatic Society's Production of the Mikado

Avalon Theatre Company

***

Having seen a trio of these farcical comedies recently, I have come to the conclusion that they are among the hardest things ever to pull off -- and this most rate as the most difficult of those seen since it requires good/bad singing.

The running gag of these plays is that, in every production these ladies put on, everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

Unlikely understudies have to fill roles (here the vicar appears as one of the pigtailed three little maids from school), entrances are missed and lines forgotten so that the proceedings rapidly descend into hilarity and chaos.

This is supposed to be a performance'' of the Ferndale Avenue Mikado, but there were so many things going on which just would not happen in front of a real audience that I think it a big mistake of the authors (not credited in the programme, though I presume must be the usual suspects David McGillvray and Walter Zerlin Jnr) not to have set the action during dress rehearsal, which are notorious for their disasters!

The show, at the Charles Cryer Studio Theatre, in Carshalton, looked splendid - lots of colourful Japanese costumes and a pretty Mount Fuji backdrop, plus the musicians were very good value.

But there was too much coarse acting.

There's no need for everyone in the chorus to be making a hash of things.

It is far funnier to see one person always slightly out of line, waving their fan the wrong way, wearing trainers or facing left instead of right, etc. ,

Avalon went for over-kill: less is more in cases and director Sue Davids should have kept a tighter rein on the enthusiasm for doing it wrong!

Mo Lawton was a Hyacinth Bouquet-type as TWQ supreme Mrs Reece.

She was cast as Lord High Everything Pooh Bah with a super-market trolley full of hats to prove it.

Cathie Poole was Angela, the only one seemingly taking things seriously as wandering minstrel Nanki-Poo with a lovely voice, and Stephanie Spellman was Thelma, alias Yum-Yum also with an attractive voice for The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze.

Clare Gollop's Ko-Ko was a real character - stooped, glum and with a Brummie accent.

Some of the singing was great fun, but quite what Gilbert and Sullivan would have made of it all I dread to think!

Diana Eccleston