Festival first and last

It’s hard to believe that the Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Buxton is in its 18th year; harder still to credit that this was the first year Chesterfield G & S Society have appeared.

They brought up the rear at the Festival Fringe last Saturday, with semi-staged productions of three short pieces, all scored by Sullivan but only one with Gilbert’s words.

Trial by Jury (both G and S) was in modern-ish dress, with Andrew Moore’s nonchalant Defendant straight off the golf course, Jo Howland’s melodic Plaintiff in traditional wedding garb, the excellent Max Taylor as her Learned Counsel and veteran player Peter Flint as the Judge. It was crisp, workmanlike and tuneful, if a little lacking in imagination.

Cox and Box (words by F S Burnand) is a three-hander without chorus; Andy Moore and company patter man Nic Wilson made it lively, pacy and witty. Max Taylor had to resort to a script – but his fine baritone voice and excellent stage presence amply compensated.

The final piece, The Zoo (words by B C Stephenson), came complete with a lion who had possibly escaped from The Wizard of Oz. A favourite Gilbert & Sullivan theme, disguised identity, leavened its intertwining love stories. Nic Wilson donned a DI Frost raincoat and hat to become Grinder the grumpy grocer; Jo Howland reappeared as nightingale-voiced Laetitia; Andy Moore and Max Taylor made it three in a row as thwarted lovers who eventually got the girls.

The 18th Festival ended last Saturday.

Lynne Patrick