Theatre Review: The Mikado

Jonathan Miller’s iconic 25th anniversary production of The Mikado at the London Coliseum is as fresh and fun as ever – ‘simply unmissable entertainment’.

Jonathan Miller’s glittering career as a writer, producer and theatre, film and opera director, has had many highlights.

But it is his production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado – now celebrating its 25th anniversary – that is widely regarded as his greatest work. On the basis of this latest English National Opera revival it’s not hard to see why.

In Miller’s production, the fictional town of Titipu is famously relocated to the foyer of a 1930s English hotel. The asymmetrical set and fantastical costumes add a comic perspective even before Gilbert’s witty libretto and Sullivan’s lively score reach their strides.

The singing is strong across the board and, in particular, the male leads shine. Alfie Boe is full of whimsy as the love-struck Nanki-Poo and Mikado-regular Richard Suart is worth a mention as Ko-Ko. He plays the role with an obvious glee, particularly during his modern rendition of Ko-Ko’s “Little List” song, updating it to include references to contemporary villains such as Wayne Rooney, Silvio Berlusconi and Middle Eastern dictators.

At times it’s more panto than opera, but rarely has a night at the Coliseum been more joyous. Despite its age, the production feels as fresh and fun as ever. While there’s no doubt another revival will be along again in a year or two, this sublime and ridiculous production is unmissable entertainment.

* Showing at the London Coliseum in St Martin’s Lane, WC2 until Saturday, March 10.