Iolanthe: Federal Election provides perfect climate for Gilbert and Sullivan classic


Geoff Kelso. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d454054
Geoff Kelso. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d454054

THIS year’s Federal Election could not come at a better time for director Geoff Kelso and The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of WA.

Their June season of 1882 Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera Iolanthe may be a farce, but the production is also close to reality.

“The timing is kind of perfect given one of the lines in one of the songs is ‘When in that house MPs divide, if they’ve a brain and cerebellum too, they’ve got to leave that brain outside, and vote just as their leaders tell ’em to’,” Kelso said.

“Nothing’s changed. The script and song lyrics in Iolanthe still has relevance to today when talking about politics and politicians.

“But it’s also got fabulous music, it’s a lot of fun and there are fairies in it which is always entertaining; people are fascinated by fairies and what they might get up to and in this case, they take over parliament.”

Kelso said the production was a musical tug-of-war between a troupe of Fairies and the Peers of the House of Lords.

The Peers, in spite of their elevated position as England’s top politicians, fall hopelessly in love with the Fairies and vice versa, but Fairies are not allowed to marry mortals.

“How this tricky legal love problem is untangled is the hilarious action of Iolanthe,” he said.

“It’s a bit of relief from the political machine that’s on our televisions and radios at the moment; an antidote if you’re sick of the Federal Election already.”

Iolanthe will be the first production Kelso has been involved in for The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of WA, having been kept up to date by old friend John Milson who directed several shows before he died three years ago.

The NIDA and WA Screen Academy trained performer’s resume includes film and television but mainly his biggest love, theatre.

“I love doing theatre for the live nature of it,” he said.

“I also did a lot of stand up comedy back in the 1980s and 90s in Sydney and Melbourne; it’s that instant interaction and response which is such a buzz.

“Comedy has always been one of my fortes which is why I like the works of Gilbert and Sullivan; they’re funny.

“Years ago, one of my older brothers bought our Dad a whole collection of Gilbert and Sullivan records, so the tunes are very familiar too.”

Tanya MacNaughton

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe

Where: Dolphin Theatre, UWA

When: June 2 to 11

Tickets: www.ticketswa.com