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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.
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
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.
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.
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.