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February 2004
Princess Ida - Wykham Hall, Banbury School
The cast of Princess Ida.


Banbury Operatic Society: Princess Ida

Wykham Hall, Banbury School

Running until Saturday 21st Februray

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By Eunice Harradine

When Gilbert and Sullivan composed Princess Ida they obviously had women's lib in mind, although in 1884, when it was first performed, women didn't even have the right to vote. However, the production at Wykham Hall, Banbury School on Monday, 16th February took an enthusiastic audience back in time with its overall quality.

The operetta, performed by Banbury Operatic Society, shows extremes of characterisation - from the princess's father, distorted in both mind and body, to the feisty princess, unwilling to compromise her principles of feminine independence, to the lovesick prince Hilarion.

Ann Sloan playing Princess Ida gave a spirited performance matched by a clear, strong voice. Philip Bloomfield played Hilarion, and he and his two friends gave good and entertaining performances, particularly when dressed as women, where their characters fooled no-one.

All the members of the cast performed well to the packed audience, and nobody seemed to mind the occasional mistake, such as when one cast member trod on a trailing gown and caused its wearer to trip.

The costumes were colourful, varied and appropriate to the period, and the sets were also in keeping with the late Middle Ages. The lighting enhanced the colours, and the 16-strong orchestra, comprising strings, wind and percussion instruments under the direction of Philip Shaw, underpinned the stage work ably.

Although the theatre only holds about 250 people, the tiered seating ensures that everyone has an unobstructed view of the stage.
For an amateur show it was professionally performed and made a very entertaining evening. I recognised several faces in the cast which added to the feeling of community.

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