“Oh, happy the lily, when kissed by the bee; and, sipping tranquilly, quite happy is he; and happy the filly that neighs in her pride; but happier than any, a pound to a penny, a lover is, when he embraces his bride!”
Ruddigore or The Witch’s Curse
March 13 to April 5, 2009
The theatre of the mid-nineteenth century, when W. S. Gilbert was growing up, is remembered today more for the lavishness of its scenic effects than for the quality of its literature. These were the days when Mazeppa’s horse galloped on a treadmill, the Corsican brothers leaped out of their famous trap, and a tremendous thunderstorm was expected in any decent second act. The characters, on the other hand, were strictly two-dimensional and hampered by the moral imperative that good be rewarded and evil punished. Every heroine was pure as driven snow. No villain had a single redeeming human quality. All seamen were hearty and all retainers faithful. This was the golden age of the melodrama.
W.S. Gilbert took great pleasure in skewering the conventions of melodrama in Ruddigore. He is delightfully adept at sending up (and cutting down) the bombastic and sentimental speeches. His heroine, Rose Maybud, is guided more by an obsession with etiquette than by any moral compass. The villain, Despard, revels in thwarting his ancestors by committing good deeds. We are treated to walking ghosts, a mad scene, a legendary curse, and – well, we tried but couldn’t quite work in that thunderstorm. Still, we think Sullivan’s music will more than make up for the loss!
Lara Trujillo as Mad Margaret
Two excellent internet resources for information about Ruddigore: