August 18, 2010
Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Patience” is a light-hearted tale of love and poetry, told with wit and visual humor, one of the fluffiest and least complex of the G&S comic operas. The College Light Opera Company’s production, at Highfield Theatre tonight and tomorrow, captures the good feeling and frivolity of this show perfectly.
The lead actors bring out the quirkiness of their characters, as they frolic across the stage, poking fun at the Aesthetic Movement of 19th-century England, in which poets and artists were perhaps viewed with more adulation than they deserved. The costumes are exquisite, especially the women’s gowns, all different, yet creating a luscious unity that extends to their long and curly hair. The set is appealing, with its suggestion of castle steps in the foreground and mountains in the distance. The woodsy opening scrim sets the scene nicely. The orchestra excels in this show, with its fine rendition of Sullivan’s rich score.
As the play opens, “twenty love-sick maidens” bemoan their unrequited love for the Fleshly Poet Reginald Bunthorne (Brad Baron), who loves only the lowly milkmaid, Patience (Christine Lacey)—who “eats butter with a spoon!” Patience has never been in love and does not wish to be made miserable by love as the others are. Ms. Lacey is delightful in this role, as she, on the advice of Lady Angela (Amanda Horvath), decides it is selfish of her not to love, and promises to fall in love at her earliest opportunity. She has a wonderful singing voice and uses it well, in her several solos and in her duets with the Idyllic Poet Archibald Grosvenor (Scott Wasserman), who turns out to be the little boy she loved long ago.
Mr. Baron and Mr. Wasserman are hilarious as the two poets, from their foppish dress to their dancing and prancing, to their over-the-top narcissism. Bunthorne reads his trivial poetry to the awed maidens, transfixed by his every utterance, though he later admits to Patience that he hates poetry. Grosvenor is burdened by the responsibility that comes from being perfect, and Patience, realizing his perfection, knows it would be selfish of her to love him, so they break up, with reluctant bravado.
Lady Jane (Amanda Forker), who is older and “stouter,” remains steadfastly committed to Bunthorne, as the other women switch their devotion to Grosvenor. Ms. Forker is very funny in this role, particularly in her recitative and song, “Sad is That Woman’s Lot,” in which she accompanies herself on the cello.
The men are the Dragoon Guards, festively attired in red and gold uniforms, which the women mock, though they had become engaged to marry the guards only a year ago. The Dragoons respond with a funny song-and-dance, “When I first put this uniform on,” reflecting that the power of their uniform to attract women has been sadly displaced by the women’s new regard for the ruffles and flourishes of the aesthetic poets.
Later, three of the soldiers, Duke (James Soller), Major (Kyle Yampiro), and Colonel (Brandon Grimes) dress in the garb of poets, and, each carrying a flower, attempt to pose as poets to win their women back. It is a very funny scene.
Mark A. Pearson, who directed CLOC’s production of “The Mikado,” “Naughty Marietta,” and “My Fair Lady,” has an amusing cameo role in this production as Bunthorne’s solicitor.
The show is directed by John R. Lucas and music directed by Mary Marcell. Costume design is by Kate Boucher, and set design is by Tim Boucher.
“Patience” continues through Saturday, August 21 at 8 PM, with a matinee at 4 PM on Thursday, August 19, at 2 PM, at Highfield Theatre in Falmouth. Tickets are $30 and may be purchased by calling 508-548-0668, or by visiting the CLOC box office, 58 Highfield Drive in Falmouth. Box office hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 12:30 PM, 2 to 5 PM, and 7 to 9 PM.