TOPSY TURVY – A FRESH LOOK AT GILBERT & SULLIVAN
DIRECTOR: Alan Swerdlow
CAST: Jonathan Roxmouth
VENUE: The Studio at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre
Until: August 5
Jonathan Roxmouth is something of an anomaly. Not many 25-year-olds have heard of Gilbert & Sullivan, yet he’s addicted.
It shows in this throwback show from a performer who should perhaps have been born in an earlier era.
But for those of us who are familiar with the famous Victorian-era creators of comic operas and have had to sometimes endure yet often escape into their hilarious operas, to see their work reinterpreted by a gloriously boisterous performer who displays his wit and his talent in equal measure, is quite something.
He welcomes the audience as if most will have hearing aids and Zimmer frames, but approaches the work with such a sense of fun and a broad-stroked contem- porary-coloured brush that he draws everyone in. And really, any age would find redemption here.
Not only will audiences be given a glimpse of masters at work that have had a huge influence on musical theatre, but they will also get to experience Roxmouth up front and personal. t’s almost scary to witness his ease at such an early stage of his career.
Together with director Alan Swerdlow, who does brilliant work in these almost throw-away kinds of productions that borrow from the old but speak to the new, they have put together a show that allows the young musical star to show off different talents. He has many.
He plays smartly with the audience as he swops wigs and swords, Alice bands, scarves and shoes, but really shines with his parlour games that work magnificently in this intimate space.
He poises and pouts, poses and points and doesn’t miss a smirk or the sweetest smile when called for. It is this ability to clown at full tilt while rattling off a song, pulling out a piano which he could play while blindfolded and managing throughout to embrace and engage his audience.
It’s an evening of fun and en route, you become a little au fait with Gilbert and Sullivan. More than that, it’s watching someone special show off much more than he has previously done.
We know he is one of our best musical talents, with a voice that can blow off the roof.
We have also seen some of his piano playing, but now he adds this solo performance with such aplomb.
We know there’s more – and he has time on his side. But for now, it’s exciting to go on the journey and experience a young performer develop his craft.