Joanna Boon shares her opinion of Ruddigore, first play to go up in the new union space, and put on by the University of St. Andrews Gilbert and Sullivan Society. She thanks the cast for their incredible work.
Ruddigore was the first play to go up in the brand new union space and it was impressive to see 601 transformed from a clubbing area into an operatic theatre. The stage was used successfully with the ensemble cast of around 30 bringing the union to life in one of the darker Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic love stories. The music by Arthur Sullivan was skilfully played by an orchestra at the front of the stage and credit must be given to the conductor, Conner McCain, who skilfully led the talented musicians and reacted to what the actors were doing on stage.
In the play, the baronets of Ruddigore are forced by a curse to commit one evil deed a day. This misfortune threatens to pull apart the initially shy couple, Rose (Catherine Hooper) and Robin (Peter Sutton), but promises to reunite the dastardly Sir Despard (Graham Dalton) and mad Margaret (Rebecca Anderson). Acting as chorus are a host of ghostly ancestors, demanding professional bridesmaids and the supporting roles of kindly aunt and sneaky foster brother were expertly filled. The plot is a roller coaster of almost‐ to‐ be weddings and fate both avoided and brought full circle. It is hilarious; the line ‘fallacy somewhere’ could be used to summarise almost the entire plot and it makes very little sense but you are swept up in the fun of it anyway.
All the actors were excellent and I was impressed that such a large cast remained so consistently in character and in tune with one another. All four leads were superb in my opinion but mad Margaret, played by Rebecca Anderson, stood out as exceptional, both in the first Act when she played the abandoned lover gone mad and in the second when she attempted to act the dutiful wife. Her costume and incredible makeup changes assisted this transition superbly. all the costumes looked professional, from the bridesmaids chequered dresses to the ghostly ancestor’s black cloaks. Rose’s wedding dress was particularly striking and I loved the beautiful veil and tight white gloves, definitely one of the most successful wedding scenes I have seen on stage.
The production team did an excellent job of creating a slick, well‐staged performance that kept the fast paced scenes running smoothly. The set was simple but all the props were used to good affect; I was particularly impressed that after a bunch of roses got torn up on stage, they were swept off again in one simple gesture as part of a dance routine. The dancing itself was a wonderful part of the production and I enjoyed the ceilidhing that went on between couples; it was an endearing way of personalising the play to Scotland. The director herself, Laura Briody, must take a lot of the credit for orchestrating such a well‐rounded and enjoyable performance.
In short, I would highly recommend this play and performance as a comical opera that traces the traumas of falling in love and the adventures of the mad. Thank you to everyone involved for bringing Ruddigore to life.