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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 2. March 20, 1946


For the person whose imagination and dramatic sensitivity is restricted by logic, the Gilbertian comedy is undoubtedly an acquired taste. A taste, moreover, which it is recommended to indulge at long intervals, lest one become somewhat dazed by the satirical mace which characterises such examples as the Mikado.

I use the term mace advisedly since the body blows of Gilbertian satire belong to an era when the subtler, more mature forms of social criticism were not in vogue in the theatre. While the wit of the Mikado may be naive in content it has, certainly, that succinct poetry which is the essence of all the operas. Gilbert and Sullivan seasons are so infrequent that in giving judgement there is a danger of setting up arbitrary standards of comparison. This danger is accentuated if it is not recognised that here is a unique type to which the traditional criteria of musical comedy are inapplicable. For safety then, the Mikado may be viewed entirety from the standpoint of the spectator, hoping for his four shillings worth. The two clearest characterizations were given by Koko. Pooh Bah and Yum Yum and the dimmest by Nanki Poo. The latter especially reminded me of a husky adolescent reciting The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck. Undoubtedly the pleasing performances of Koko, Pooh Bah, Katisha, and the Mikado were aided by the fact that they were the only ones who were consistently audible towards the back of the theatre. In spite of his awkward technique and lack of flexibility [unclear: Nagki] Poo, undoubtedly, possessed the finest singing voice in the cast. Yum Yum's also was a' voice of pleasing timbre though the effect was often marred by poor articulation and self-conscious posturing. Two very effective scenes were provided in their respective first entrances, by Katisha and Koko. who also enacted perhaps the wittiest and prettiest scene of all.