AS Redditch freezes, turn your thoughts to sunnier climes – perhaps a beautiful tropical Island…
Welcome to Utopia, Limited, the penultimate and rarely staged opera by Gilbert and Sullivan which through song takes a tilt at British imperialism and wait for it, bankrupt companies leaving creditors unpaid – sounds familiar?
Staged by Astwood Bank Operatic Society, who did a knockout production of ‘Brigadoon’ last year, it promises sun, sea, song – and lots of laughs.
“It’s about attempts to convert the natives of a tropical island – Utopia – to ‘superior’ European culture and the chaos that follows,” said Helen Braley of ABOS.
“It’s more akin to a Victorian Monty Python, with some very silly situations, witty dialogue, and tuneful music, all brought together in a very accessible production.”
Utopia, Limited first took to the stage in 1893 at the height of British Imperialism, when ‘Britain ruled the world’ and half of the globe was painted red.
Back then the British style of imperialism was to impose English institutions on their colonies, often resulting in absurd situations and impractical outcomes and it is this that Gilbert & Sullivan ruthlessly lampoon as the British carry out the exercise in a place which is already Utopia.
Another key part of the drama is of a company taking people’s money then not paying out on its obligations – as relevant today as it was back in the 19th Century.
“It’s a patriotic romp which both sends up and revels in Englishness/Britishness, with all its foibles,” added Helen.
Featuring colourful characters like Captain Fitzbattleaxe and County Councillor Bunty Blushington as well as Hakas, Hulas, sarongs and grass skirts, Utopia, Limited promises to be a hoot.