Review: The Sorcerer, Lyceum

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The Sorcerer, Lyceum

LOVE is a confusing affair, especially if it is brewed in a potion.

The villagers of Ploverleigh learn this the hard way in Gilbert & Sullivan’s two-part comic opera. Alexis is head-over-heels in love with Aline and their forthcoming marriage is the talk of the village. But not quite content with their own romance, they set upon a matchmaking plan to unite everyone else in holy matrimony and enlist potion salesman John Wellington Wells to cast a spell over their unsuspecting neighbours.

What follows is complete farce in which everyone begins lusting after the person they would normally despise.

Opera della Luna have updated this late Victorian opera for a 21st century audience; Alexis and Aline are free-loving hippies, strutting their stuff in 1970s inspired costumes, while their friends are the archetypal residents of a rural English village. The potion maker also dons an embroidered suit with huge platform shoes and flares, adding a sense of pantomime to the production.

Though the singing was top notch, and the comedy prompted laughs here and there, the opera failed to entertain throughout, particularly in the first half. The Sorcerer was not one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s most popular productions, and it remains a slightly risky choice for theatre troupes. That said, the second half contained some very funny moments; not least when Aline’s mother, Lady Sangazure, propositions the potion maker himself, much to his horror, but to the audience’s amusement.

If you’re fond of late Victorian humour, then you’ll love the unashamed bawdiness of this production. Otherwise it might all seem a bit overdone.

Rachel Blundy